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Woman in a lampshade /

Main Author:
Other Authors: Australia Council. Literature Board.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Penguin Books, 1986
Series: King Penguin.
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Review by Booklist Review

Australian Elizabeth Jolley's fiction is remarkable both for its quantity and quality. There is an alchemy in the progression from one novel to the next. She is purifying her unique vision and style. The Well, Jolley's third novel to be published in the U.S., retains the gothic sensibility of Milk and Honey (Booklist 82:1357 My 15 86) and Foxybaby (82:29 S 1 85), while shedding their complexity, strained humor, and baroqueness. The Well vibrates with tension. Two women, one old, one young, live in an isolated farmhouse. Hester's life has been lonely and harsh, working the farm and caring for her father in the grim, stubborn silence of unforgiven hurt and shame. She takes in an orphan, Katherine, and is captivated by her innocence and vitality. Farm and father, who soon dies, are forgotten as Hester concentrates all her thoughts and finances on Katherine. Her adoration is possessive, desperate, and willful; Katherine, in turn, seeks release. Jolley's depiction of the intensification and resolution of their struggle is masterful and haunting. While The Well is Jolley at her best, the collection of short stories, Woman in a Lampshade, finds her at different levels and moods. The experimentation found here is lively, and many of the stories achieve a telling balance of humor and hopelessness. Some of the best are ''Pear Tree Dance,'' ``Adam's Bride,'' ``Wednesdays and Fridays,'' and ``The Last Crop.'' Several themes emerge: the author's cynicism about relationships is set against her love of landscape, which enriches her stories with descriptions of the contours, sounds, and fragrances of the countryside. Her fascination with the act of writing and the protective detachment it provides is also evident. Jolley is a deep and resonant writer. DK.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this collection of short stories, as in her other work (Mr Scobie's Riddle, Milk and Honey, Australian writer Jolley presents characters who are displacedeither from their native countries or from the prosperity that never came their way. The domestics, door-to-door salesmen, immigrants, farmers and housewives who people this book may lead lives of quiet desperation, but theyare not touched by moments of grace.In ``Pear Tree Dance,'' the last raysof sun reach the drab rented room of a gossipy woman known as ``the Newspaper of Claremont Street,'' or, for short, ``Weekly'': ``Even the old linoleum could have a sudden richness at this time of evening. It was like the quick lighting up of a plain girl's face when she smiles because of some unexpected happiness.'' A biographical note states that the author ``worked as a nurse, a door-to-door salesperson and as a flying domestic.'' Jolley's prose confirms her as a writer who lives in the everyday world and soars above it. (September) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Elizabeth Jolley was born Monica Elizabeth Knight in Birmingham, England on June 4, 1923. She was educated privately until age 11, when she was sent to Sibford School, a Quaker boarding school. At 17 she began training as nurse in London and was exposed firsthand to the horrors of World War II. She emigrated to Australia in 1959 with her husband and their three children. Before becoming a full-time author, she had numerous jobs including nursing, housecleaning, and farming.

She published her first book of short stories, Five Acre Virgin and Other Stories, in 1976, and her first novel, Palomino, in 1980. Her other works included The Newspaper of Claremont Street, Mr. Scobie's Riddle, The Well, My Father's Moon, Miss Peabody's Inheritance, Foxybaby, and The Sugar Mother. She died on February 13, 2007 at the age of 83.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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