'Mr Scobie's arrival at the nursing home of St Christopher and St Jude - and descent into the clutches of Matron Hyacinth Price - is accidental. Adrift in his own memories but preserving a gentle politesse, Mr Scobie stands apart from the others.
'For long-term resident and eccentric, Miss Hailey, he represents a kindred spirit; for Matron Price - a lady of questionable practices - the latest victim.
'This bleakly comic investigation of old age, exile and displacement shows Elizabeth Jolley at her finest. It is written with wry humour, melancholy and great warmth.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (Modern Classics ed.).
'Elizabeth Jolley is one of Australia's most significant writers: she published some two dozen books of fiction, essays and radio dramas, won every major Australian literary award, received four honorary doctorates, was awarded the Order of Australia for service to Australian Literature in 1988, and was named an Australian 'National Living Treasure' in 1997.
Her career has its roots in the UK, the place of her birth, schooling and early marriage. In 1959 she travelled with her three children and her husband to Perth, Western Australia, where Leonard Jolley took up a position as foundation Librarian of the University of Western Australia. She brought with her a trunk full of unpublished/rejected manuscripts which provided the initial materials from which she developed her published fictions and essays in Australia.
This article explores the institutional frameworks in Australia which enabled Jolley - a constant writer from childhood - to develop, in David Carter's phrase, 'a career in writing' from the mid-1970s onwards. It argues that Jolley rewrote her foundation manuscripts (written in another country) both to imagine Australian lives and to conform to Australian publishers' requirements. In doing so, it traces how the fiction and essays translate the experience of migration/exile, often thematised through the recurrent image of being 'on the edge,' into the particular and powerful ethic of love that informs Jolley's writing.' (Author's abstract)