A Bough in Hell
"Dymphna Cusack's new novel is the compassionate and perceptive story of a woman's effort to escape from the nightmare of alcohol addiction.
"Uncertain of herself, vulnerable, Roslyn is a woman who needs people, who needs to feel they need her. But her husband Rod, an officer in the Australian Navy, is often away at sea, and her daughter, grown up and preoccupied with her studies and her boyfriend, comes only rarely to see her.
"Imagining sights where perhaps none exist, and feeling herself cold-shouldered by the other naval wives, shunned by the tenants in her Sydney block of flats, Roslyn starts drinking to console herself on her lonely evenings at home, unaware that what is at first only a harmless temporary escape from barren reality will grow into a need, and then into an overpowering obsession..."
She leaned as far as she could from the bay-window and waved as the car turned round the bend. She saw the flash of their hands in response in an oblique ray of the sun that ricocheted of[ the dent in the boot where she had reversed into the back of the garage. Her heart swelled with immoderate joy. How she loved them both, husband, daughter. How good they were to her. Rod had never said a word to her about that dent, nor about many other things of which he might have complained. She must be more careful in future.
Smudgy leapt on to the window sill beside her and turned his topaz eyes to the light. She smoothed his cars, sooty above a grey face and ran her hand down his back. He purred throatily at her caress.
A low ray of sunshine hung dusty-golden across the Park, sculpturing the Moreton Bay figs, turning the withered grass to amber, emphasizing the ugly solidity of the high-rise block that cut off their view of the Harbour. When she could watch the water in its multiple enchantments - silky-grey at dawn, scintillating blue at mid-day, a wonderland of fairy lights at night, she had felt closer to Rod wherever he was. Now, all she could see of it was the ominous superstructure of warships along Garden Island, filling her with chilly foreboding. Tomorrow morning they would sail and Rod with them.
The familiar anguish at his going began to enshroud her like a rising fog. No matter how often it happened she could not reconcile herself to it. Less now than ever before. Then she had Gwen. Now Gwen had gone too.
From the Heinemann hardback edition, 1971.
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Last modified: February 11, 2002.