Miss Gomez and the Brethren PDF ¼ Miss Gomez

Miss Gomez and the Brethren This book is gloomy but reveals much about human nature The characters each carry their own baggage A most bizarre story Miss Gomez the sole survivor of a huge fire that took the lives of an entire neighborhood grew up feeling unworthy of being alive even though she was too young to be aware at the time Showered with good care and affection in her Jamaican orphanage she responded in such a negative way that all who knew her thought she was mad She ran away to London to continue her life in pathetically dissipated ways until she happened to read about The Church of the Brethren of the Way that had an address back in Jamaica She wrote to the place received inspiring letters in return and was moved to a new and enlightened path in life Of course a red flag pops up in the reader's mind when Miss Gomez is asked to send money and that niggling thought stays in one's mind throughout the rest of the book Her new life in London is populated by unorthodox characters as she sets off proselytizing to any and all oblivious to the fact that nobody wants to listen to her When she finds a neighborhood that calls to her it is one that is in the process of being razed for redevelopment with few residents left Still she believes it is her mission to spread the word there of her new found faith to a degree that she becomes the source of a huge upheaval that seriously impacts the lives of many locals A fine story interesting characters Set in a stylised East End of London and rural Jamaica Miss Gomez is another of Trevor's character studies of the marginalised people who hover at the edges of society The victim of unspeakable violence as an infant Miss Gomez is raised in an orphage flees to London to go on the game finds salvation through religion and attempts in her own confused way to spread a message of joy and love among unreceptive Eastenders All of this only to end in disappointment and regret when she returns to Jamaica and the truth about the Church which came to mean everything to her Less creepy than Children of Dynmouth but both crueler and kinder in the end Funnier too oddly Trevor eviscerates myths of family religion occupation and even war via his very human and very flawed characters Not my favorite of Trevor's novels but as always his masterful writing is soft and subtle with deeply developed characters enduring pain in their uotidian lives Miss Gomez is a Jamaican black women who ran away from an orphanage where she was placed as the lone survivor of a horrendous fire As a child she cannot emotionally bond with others; as she fled the orphanage she was abused sexually several times but doesn't evince the rage such abuse should elicit She manages to emigrate to England where after a series of unskilled jobs becomes a stripper and then a prostitute both activities taking her deeper in a gulf of depersonalized human contact In the depths of her estrangement from human feelings Miss Gomez spots an advertisement in a London paper for a church in Jamaica called Brethren of the Way The Brethren claim that happiness will come to those who pray for criminals and others who follow evil ways The church asks its adherents to write to them of people who needs its prayer ministry and to send money to support the church's mission She falls for this sect in a big way she has broken through her detachment from human kind She zealously seeks converts to her church; at last she has made an emotional connection with others but importantly she never actually meets the church reverends; her only ties are through their replies to her letters Miss Gomez makes her way to Crow Street finding employment cleaning a pet store operated by the widow Mrs Bassett and an adjacent pub run by Mr and Mrs Tuke Crow Street is an eerie devastation zone nearly entirely demolished to make way for new housing development The only premises remaining amidst the rubble are the pet store that Mrs Bassett refuses to sell and the pub whose brewery leaseholder wants to stay open for the trade brought by the laborers on the projectIn rooms above the pub reside Alban Roche who works in the pet store Mr Batt a pensioner who is deaf and contemplating taking his own life and Prudence the Tuke's remote and lonely hippy like daughter Alban has recently been released from gaol after serving a short sentence having been caught peeping on women who were undressing He is fixated on the memory of his late devoted mother who he has come to realize he detested He has taken a great interest in the pets and will inherit the store upon Mrs Bassett's passing Mr Tuke is a miluetoast husband whose sole emotional attachment is to his Alsatian dog He formerly was very close to his daughter but they have become distant after he found out that Pru is from a liaison of Mrs Tuke and other man Mrs Tuke is garrulous in her demeanor and garish in her dress an alcoholic addicted to romance novels which stoke her florid fantasies She is haughtily dismissive of an Irish laborer who is pursuing her but without self acknowledgment that she has willingly consented to sleep with him Mrs Bassett dies in her sleep and Alban inherits the pet store His plan is to take the developer's offer of compensation and move the store to another location Pru secretly loves Alban and finally makes him aware of her feelings Miss Gomez believes that they all are in need of and will find solace in as she has her religion and she ceaselessly proselytizes them to join her church She has a premonition that Alban will imminently commit a sex crime and she warns everyone of this When Pru turns up missing all are convinced that she has been murdered by Alban and the police stage an investigation and search that receives national media attention It turns out that Pru and Alban have located a premise for the store and she has spent hours out of sight working on readying it for the move The hysteria spurred by Miss Gomez has turned the incident into a farcePru and Alban start a new life together but there are hints that it may not be permanent Before the pub is relocated Mr Tuke's beloved dog is killed by a pack of feral cats living in the ruins of Crow Street He becomes withdrawn and he begins to think that the Brethren might be what he needs in his life to offset his estrangement from his wife and daughter Mr Batt moves to new lodging and purchases aspirin that he contemplates using to end his life His chance encounter with Miss Gomez turns around his thinking on this She believes that her encounter with Mr Batt has shown that she is an exemplar of fulfilling the Brethren's doctrines and writes to them of this When after weeks she receives no reply she books a flight to Jamaica to meet the church's leaders in person Her pilgrimage to the temple of her church ends up with discovery that the church was a scam that defrauded its distant faithful followers of their tithes There's a note of hope when she sees a notice for the Assembly of God offering services in KingstonSome of the novel's scenes are uite comical especially when Miss Gomez is firing the characters up about the crime she has foretold but the comedy only serves to underscore an all pervasive pathos about their lives Miss Gomez and the others do not perceive that the tragedies of their circumstances are beyond their ability to control She has latched on to her religion as the means of personal fulfillment; we are certain she will be betrayed by it The Tuke's think that through the relocation of the pub their status will improve; we know there is nothing about their inner lives that this will change The metaphor of their ruined neighborhood parallels the desolation of their lives The deep sadness Trevor leaves with the reader derives from the hopelessness that the characters can control the circumstances of their lives that bar their happiness a sadness profound because they are unaware of it Think of the dog's fate for a moment This powerful animal began to show fear about the feral cats and in the end he was killed by them not even showing a fight Are not these characters eually unable to master the forces beset them in their lives? Are any humans? I absolutely loved the way Trevor drew out his characters in this novel surrounding Miss Gomez with a bunch of misfits and dodgy wastrels wherever she happened to go The religious angle is very well captured and keeps one hooked all the way through Well written but dated A Goodreads friend is a big fan of this author so thought I'd try one of his works Much of his output has been short story which doesn't interest me particularly So I looked through the available novels at my library and this one jumped out at me First we get Miss Gomez' background as an orphan in Jamaica where she's eventually driven to leave the orphanage due to her behavior problems Moving to London she works as a stripper and prostitute after discovering religion so uite a combination Later she takes a job at a pub in a neighborhood all but demolished full clearance slated Her employer Mrs Tuke is a fascinating character in her own right Sybil Fawlty crossed with Mrs Elton from Jane Austen's Emma whose mixture of gin with peppermint cordial made me uesy every time it was mentioned Their confrontation halfway through made me laugh out loud Second part is serious with repercussions of the sudden disappearance of the Tuke's daughter Ending I found a bit sad but not unexpected Highly recommended with one caveat dog people need to be forewarned that Mr Tuke's Alsatian Rebel meets a rather grisly end shocking in my opinion Beryl Tuke whiling time away in the Thistle Arms with gin and cheap romances and Alban Roche at Bassett's Petstore are among the street's dream ridden survivors A new arrival Miss Gomez lives for her postal correspondence with the Church of the Brethren of the Way in Jamaica No one will believe Miss Gomez when she announces her revelation of a hideous sex crime soon to be committed in Crow Street Until Prudence Tuke disappears the police arrive and the newspapers herald a 'Sex Crime Prophecy'

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