'In The Pea Pickers, a novel based on Eve Langley's own experiences, Steve and Blue are two girls who, dressed as men, are taken on as itinerant workers for the farmers of Gippsland. They pack apples and pick peas. But their disguise is partial - and their quest is for love. For Blue the novel ends in marriage; but not for Steve. For her, desire is never straightforward, and love - for men, for women, for country - leaves her confused, but independent. ' (Publication summary)
'Outsider architecture references a continuum of unofficial constructions, from the tenuous envelope of found materials that a homeless person folds about themselves nightly, to the compellingly precarious sculptural artefact, painstakingly but illegally built, in a front garden or on public land. One way that the homeless deal with their vulnerability to harsh weather, psychological disturbance and lack of privacy is the construction of ad hoc shelters from found objects and recycled rubbish. These shelters represent one form of outsider architecture. Roger Cardinal notes that another form is the idiosyncratic construction of sculptural assemblages, also, typically from recycled materials, to form architectural structures, modified dwellings, landscaped areas, collections, monuments and shrines that seem to pop up in most cities, or anywhere there are people (169). All over the world, homeless people seek to provide at least temporary shelter for themselves, and at the same time, a certain number of people, sometimes the same people, engage in personal projects of construction in which the expression of individuality is as, if not more, important than physical containment or shelter.
'This article will consider the work of one author, Eve Langley, as a form of outsider architecture and will suggest that the physical entity formed by Langley’s novels, as a manifestation of outsider architecture, provided their author with the hope of psychic shelter when she wrote them. Langley wrote at a time in which it was difficult for a woman to succeed as an artist, or to support herself financially. As well, she experienced a dysfunctional marriage and suffered from uncertain health. Despite these difficult conditions, she wrote compulsively, sending manuscripts, one after another to her publishers, long after they had stopped publishing her work.
'Yet, the large body of unpublished manuscripts in the Mitchell speaks of more than the mental ill health that is frequently associated with Langley. Consideration of the debates active within the literary community of New Zealand at the time Langley was writing, and the nature and content of, in particular, her novelistic oeuvre, suggests that Langley may have been writing at least partly in response to local literary voices. Despite her peripatetic lifestyle and solipsistic tendencies, Langley was part of the community of writers living in New Zealand in the mid-twentieth century. Her writing was supported and criticised by it, and undoubtedly shaped by it. This article will consider the part this community played in Langley’s writing, the dual aspects of vulnerability and strength, feelings of alienation and centrality, exhibited in Langley’s authorial choices. By examining Langley’s body of work through the lens of outsider architecture, Langley’s prolific literary output in the face of a largely negative reception may be seen, not so much as the sign of a loss of control, but as a strategic, if eccentric, construction of an authorial presence.' (Author's abstract)
'Eve Langley’s first novel, The Pea-pickers (1942), has surprised and delighted readers since it was written. Douglas Stewart praised it as ‘the most original contribution to Australian literature since Tom Collins wrote Such is Life’ (31), and Norman Lindsay described it as ‘a book that will live’ (2). Before publication the manuscript shared the Bulletin’s S. H. Prior Memorial Prize in 1940, with The Battlers by Kylie Tenant and the ‘John Murtagh Macrossan lectures’ by Malcolm Henry Ellis. On reading the manuscript Frank Dalby Davison wrote, ‘It has the dew on it … It contributes something fresh to Australian literature. It is rare. I think it will be cherished’ (2). The predictions of Davison and his colleagues have proven to be accurate: twenty-first century readers still find this engaging novel ‘fresh’ and ‘original’, and enjoy the protagonist’s theatrical flouting of social conventions. Langley skilfully weaves together many strands in her vibrant text, and perhaps most successful is the humour that frequently pervades the narrative. This humour is often at the expense of the narrator, though rapid shifts in perspective and the wit and vigour of her voice urge the reader to laugh with Steve at the same time as we laugh at her.' (Introduction)