THE WELL book cover   The Well
Elizabeth Jolley

Cover illustration by Lynda Taylor and Cathy Van Ee

Dustjacket synopsis:
"Miss Hester Harper, middle aged and eccentric, brings Katherine into her emotionally impoverished life. Together they sew, cook gourmet dishes for two, run the farm, make music and throw dirty dishes down the well.

"One night, driving along the deserted track that leads to the farm, they run into a mysterious creature. They heave the body from the roo bar and dump it into the farm's deep well. But the voice of the injured intruder would not be stilled and, most disturbing of all, the closer Katherine is drawn to the edge of the well, the farther away she gets from Hester."

"It is a detective novel without a detective, a thriller without a conclusion... a romance and a good read." - Stephanie Trigg, Australian Book Review
"Her fiction shines and shines, like a good deed in a naughty world." Angela Carter, The New York Times Book Review

First Paragraph:

'What have you brought me Hester? What have you brought me from the shop?'
'I've brought Katherine, Father,' Miss Harper said. 'I've brought Katherine, but she's for me.'

One night Miss Hester Harper and Katherine are driving home from a celebration, a party at a hotel in town, to which Miss Harper has been an umwilling guest. Katherine had wanted very much to go to the party. She is under the spell of a succession of film stars, the present one being John Travolta. She tries to walk exactly as he walks. Having seen every one of his films several times she is able to imagine herself, when dancing, as his chosen perpetual partner. Miss Harper, unable to refuse Kathy anything, has endured a long evening bearing at least two insults, one of these, because of the Peter Pan collar, laden with disturbing implication. She also suffered during the evening's long drawn-out entertainment a renewal of the realization of her own changed status brought about by recent events.

From the Penguin paperback edition, 1987.

A film adaptation of this novel was released in 1997, from a script by Laura Jones, directed by Samantha Lang and featured Pamela Rabe and Miranda Otto.
This novel won the Miles Franklin Award in 1987, for a work published during 1986.

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

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Last modified: June 28, 2005.