MR SCOBIES RIDDLE book cover   Mr Scobie's Riddle
Elizabeth Jolley

Cover illustration by John Burge

Dustjacket synopsis:
"Mr Scobie's arrival at the nursing home of St Christopher and St Jude - and into the clutches of Matron Hyacinth Price - is accidental. Self-educated and still preserving the gift of idyllic memory and wish, 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 ...

"But unwittingly, Mr Scobie has some recourse - his very simple riddle. Its answer - an ancient commonplace - jolts Matron Price.

"Yet it is Mr Scobie's nephew, Hartley, and the group of nocturnal poker players, who ultimately change Matron Price's establishment..."

"startingly divines riddles of mortality" - Helen Daniel, The Age
"Her writing is splendid, her characters various, her humour delicious." - Nancy Keesing
"Mr Scobie's Riddle is unquestionably Jolley's finest achievement" - Laurie Clancy

First Paragraph:

Everywhere there was the lightness and the excitement of the coming summer. There was a warm garden scent of cut grass drying in brownish ridges. There was the fragrance of tall grasses, still growing, waving feathered heads. There was the perfume of unnamed flowers, the flowera of well-established suburban gardens, and the flowers of weeds and nasturtiums. It was not an unaccustomed sweetness of summer flowers but a penetrating freshness.

On all sides of the little hospital there was a piling up of colour. From the green and orange and yellow of the leaves and the brave trumpets of the nasturtiums, vivid splashes of colour climbed into the golden lantana and up into the scarlet bottle brush flowers. The pink and purple bougainvillia hung sprawling in one direction over neat brick walls and, in the other, climbed over garage roofs reaching still further up into the powdered rain cloud of cape lilac.

From the Penguin paperback edition, 1983.

This novel won the The Age Book of the Year Award in 1983 and the Fiction section of the WA Premier's Prize in the same year.

This page and its contents are copyright © 1997-2005 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: June 28, 2005.