Summary and book reviews of Jewel by Bret Lott

Jewel

by Bret Lott

Jewel
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  • First Published:
    Jan 1999, 255 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 1999, 368 pages

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Book Summary

In this story of a woman's devotion to the child who is both her burden and God's singular way of smiling on her, Bret Lott has created a mother-daughter relationship of matchless intensity and beauty.

In the backwoods of Mississippi, a land of honeysuckle and grapevine, Jewel and her husband, Leston, are truly blessed; they have five fine children. When Brenda Kay is born in 1943, Jewel gives thanks for a healthy baby, last-born and most welcome. Jewel is the story of how quickly a life can change; how, like lightning, an unforeseen event can set us on a course without reason or compass. In this story of a woman's devotion to the child who is both her burden and God's singular way of smiling on her, Bret Lott has created a mother-daughter relationship of matchless intensity and beauty, and one of the finest, most indomitable heroines in contemporary American fiction.

Book One: 1943
Chapter 1

I was born in 1904, so that when I was pregnant in 1943 I was near enough to be past the rightful age to bear children. This would be my sixth, and on that morning in February, the first morning I'd known I was with child, I'd simply turned to Leston in bed next to me, the room gray from a winter sky outside the one window, that sky not yet lit with the sun, and I'd said, "There'll be no more after this one."

He rolled onto his back, his eyes still shut, the little hair he still had wild and loose on his head. He put his hands behind his head, and gave a sort of smile, one I'd seen enough times before this. Five times before, to be exact.

He said, "Another one," and kept the smile. Then he said, "What makes you think so?"

I said, "Doesn't take divining, not after five," and I paused. I reached a hand up from beneath the quilts, felt the chill of the morning on my skin, that skin the same color gray as the small strip ...

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Suggested Topics for Discussion

Jewel is Bret Lott's story of an American family's odyssey from the dense backwoods of Mississippi to the dry heat and bright hope of the city streets of Los Angeles. "Sweeping and beautifully written," according to The New York Times Book Review, Jewel is a "parable for our age." It is a journey out of poverty and out of ignorance driven by one woman's unbendable will, and her unstoppable love for her family.

With five healthy children and a war which allows for her husband Leston's steady work -- "a twisted sort of blessing," as Jewel notes -- the Hilburns' are happy and life continues in a slow-paced Mississippi way. But when Jewel and Leston's sixth child is born a "...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

The New York Times Book Review

Sweeping and beautifully written....a parable for our age.

The Chicago Tribune

Bret Lott's Jewel is a beautifully crafted first-person epic of one poor southern woman's personal duel with God....This is a voice we don't want to stop hearing....Some of the tenderest scenes of family love since those in Dickens.

The Los Angeles Times

Lott is one of the most important and imaginative writers in America today. His eye for detail is unparalleled; his vision -- where he looks -- is like no one else's in this country.

The Boston Globe

Bret Lott has a gift for making the ordinary seem luminous. In Jewel, he applies his art to a broad canvas and produces what may stand as his masterpiece....Lott matches the honest strength of his characters with that of his prose. His Jewel is a force of nature, her story rising out of a perfect, seamless union of teller and tale.

Reader Reviews

Bev

Well written
I loved the book. Very well written. It did get a bit confusing as it went back and forth from times before and after. I finished it in one day. Very intriguing. Showed life as it used to be. But I am very confused. I did not understand the last ...   Read More

Nancy Johnson


9-23-03

In the beginning, I almost added Mr. Lott's book, "Jewel", to the box of books I had discarded or read to be passed along to others. It was a used book, you see, with pages that kept falling out which, in the past, has been reason ...   Read More

Crystalee

Now that I have successfully finished this book, (yes, in just a matter of days!) I can give it a rating of 5 stars!

SLK

Jewel is a very powerful novel by Bret Lott, describing the true hardships of raising a daughter who never grows up. Jewel is willing to go on a journey without any direction and without any money across the country in search of help for Brenda Kay....   Read More

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