A DESCANT FOR GOSSIPS book cover   A Descant for Gossips
Thea Astley

Cover design by Craig Glasson using "Palmwoods" by John Rigby (1986)

Dustjacket synopsis:
"In this classic story of small-town life, two schoolteachers are drawn to each other by their concern for a lonely young schoolgirl. But rumour and malice mount against the three, sweeping them into isolation and, ultimately, disaster."


"Touched by the flying fringe of greatness. . . This is a novel to remember, penetrating, passionate, keen in its observation, quick in its feeling. It is written from riches." - Marjorie Barnard, Meanjin
"One of the most poignant child-studies in Australian literature." - Jean Campbell, Overland
"Although it is more than 25 years since this mesmerising novel was first published, it remains a fascinating estimate of the costs of being different". - John Gabree, New York Newsday
"Few writers can equal Astley in conveying the physical, social and moral landscape of Australia. . . or in scattering dazzling imagery on every page." - Publishers Weekly

First Paragraph:

As long as Vinny Lalor could remember she had been on the fringe of things. Family and school both found her their least important member. They circled giddily without needing her. She was afraid, as she clung to the spinning edges of her world, that one day she would be flung unwanted and violently into space. Even the new season did not burst over her in a green flurry. Buds flocked along the adolescent trees, but she came, after her fourteenth winter, unmoved by the spring into the first week of the last term.

From the UQP paperback edition, 1991.

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Last modified: November 16, 2004.