Girl with a Monkey
"A young school-teacher in a small North Queensland town, lonely, bored, and eager for life, forms a relationship with a road worker, older and more experienced than she, but vulnerable through his love for her. The action of this short novel follows her through one day, the day on which she is leaving the town on transer south in an attempt to end a situation that has become emotionally intolerable. It is a day of steaming tropical heat and munting tension as she moves about tying up the loose ends of her life in the town, constantly on the watch for the man, fearing the violence of his reaction to her desertion and seeking to evade the inevitable clash of their encounter. She meets the various people who have had a temporary importnce for her - infatuated bank clerk, the small-town blue stocking, the other teachers at the school - and with them she meets the past, and the days that have led to the climax of this last day."
It was, perhaps, the light filtering slowly into that green aquarium that woke her, and set her soul struggling to the surface through the washings of shapeless ideas. The enormousness of this day, she thought, is poised knife-like above me, cutting north from south and hot from cold. Today I am twenty-two and loved neither here nor there. I am caught static in a complete island of twenty-four hours, between job and job, town and town where there is no one whose shadow will touch my own or whom I shall not unmake before night. But this is complete. This self with carbuncular leg held still below the hotel sheets and the isolation of underclothes across dark chairs and baggage piled by doors. There is only need to make the day move conventionally through meals and ticket-buyings and farewells; but withal the strange importance of performing these simplicities youngly and alone. Pastiche and pasquinade and passover were all words that slipped momentarily through her mind as she thrust the good leg outside the bed through the last shallows of sleep.
From the Nelson paperback edition, 1977.
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Last modified: November 16, 2004.