An Ordinary Lunacy
"When David Byfield sees Isobel for the first time at a party, he decides that he has fallen in love with her. An attractive and successful lawyer, David is being groomed for a political career; his experience with love and intimacy, however, is limited.
"Months after the party, Isobel's alcoholic husband is found dead in their shabby apartment, an apparent suicide. Then Isobel is accused of his murder and David steps up to defend her as both lawyer and friend. But Isobel's case is more than he bargained for...
"Set in contemporary Sydney, Jessica Anderson's first novel is a perceptive and witty portrait of men and women caught between their desires and their obligations, and the choices we all make for - or in spite of - love."
"Jessica Anderson is a novelist whose work you cannot afford to miss, whose voice is unfailingly clear, distinct, in an utterance of truths which call forth response and the pangs of personal recognition." - Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Jessica Anderson is a graceful storyteller with the rare and quirky ability to transcend plot cliches through the emotional fidelity of her writing...Her prose is lean, intense, and clear." - The Village Voice
'One seldom sees hair like that nowadays,' said David Byfield.
Myra Magaskill, whose party this was, peered in the directon he had so discreetly indicated. ' Hair like what?' she said.
'On that woman behind the stand of potplants. Odd, she could almost be hiding. Look again, a little less obviously if you can manage it.'
Provoked by this remark into open staring, Myra this time saw a woman standing between the potted plants and the balustrade of the terrace. Her back was towards them, but through the barrier of leaves Myra discerned a hand holding a glass, a sleeve of black and tarnished gold, and, more clearly visible through the thinner spread of top leaves, the woman's hair. Myra recognised magnificence in its frosty ashen-gold, in its weight, and in its glittering nimbus of escaped curl. But to her modern sense its very sumptuousness condemned it; it was dated. Moreover, she thought it was dressed in a style suitable only for taking a bath - hoisted up in that great lax knot, so indolently jabbed with pins. She laughed a little and said, 'Oh, that's Isobel Purdy. Do you want to meet her?'
From the Penguin paperback edition, 1987.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Jessica Anderson page.
Last modified: December 24, 2001.