Author(s): Jennifer Down (Introduction by)
"Beautifully written." --Publishers Weekly
"Intelligent, fresh, and new." --Kirkus
First published in 1990. Winner of the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction. Young Australian Belle, the daughter of an American musician, looks back on the people and forces that shaped her life. Researching in the archives Belle discovers the long-dead Gaden Lockyer, a colonial pioneer in Jericho Flats, and becomes obsessed. Belle's quest for Lockyer is her way of coming to terms with the past--her mother, "a drummer in her own all-women's group"; her absent American father; and her ineffectual husband. Astley's satire at its sharpest and most entertaining.
Thea Beatrice May Astley was born in Brisbane in 1925. In 1958 Astley's first novel, Girl with a Monkey, was published. Over the next four decades she published a work of fiction every few years. Her novels and short stories are distinguished by vivid imagery and metaphor; a complex, ironic style; and a desire to highlight oppression and social injustice.Astley won the Miles Franklin Literary Award for The Well Dressed Explorer (1962), her third novel. Many notable books followed, among them the groundbreaking A Kindness Cup (1974), which addressed frontier massacres of Indigenous Australians, and It's Raining in Mango (1987).Astley won the 1989 Patrick White Award and became an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1992. Her last novel was Drylands (1999), her fourth Miles Franklin winner and first since 1972. A lifelong chain-smoker famed for her sharp wit, Thea Astley died in 2004. She remains one of the most distinctive and influential Australian novelists of the twentieth century.