Isobel on the Way to the Corner Shop
"Isobel Callaghan fears she is going mad. She has resigned from her job, and is trying to survive as a writer. With no food left in her rooming-houe attic, she sets out to buy provisions from the corner shop. On the way she collapses, and to her surprise wakes up in hospital...
"From there it's a bumpy ride to the tuberculosis sanatorium, where Isobel becomes a member of a self-contained society. The god-like doctors and an assorted, less than compatible, cast of patients help Isobel to gain hard insights about herself, and about human nature, on the slow path to recuperation. While many of the experiences recounted in this memorable novel are grim, Amy Witting manages at the same time to be continually and compassionately funny. From her humour emerges the profound, ironic wisdom by which all her writing is distiguished."
"Witting's ability to delicately carve and polish a startling vignette from the seemingly commonplace is unrivalled; her empathy and wry humour are irresistible." - Bulletin
"Her reflections on human nature are eloquently drawn, intimate, compassionate and witty." - Australian
'How can I write about love,' Isobel asked herself, 'when I don't know the first thing about it?'
She sat at the typewriter staring at the blank page where George should hours ago have made his delicate, sensitive approach to Anna.
Since she had rolled that sheet into the machine, she had played a dozen games of patience, stared out from her attic window at the view of the houses across the street, eaten a baked bean sandwich, chewed a fingernail painfully down to the quick, keeping at bay the thought that the whole enterprise had been a mistake, that perhaps she couldn't write at all.
Two successful stories and a rave note from an editor and she was off. Living in an attic, how childish. Had she really supposed that three and a half flights of stairs would take her halfway up Parnassus?
From the Penguin paperback edition, 1999.
This novel was shortlisted the Miles Franklin Award in 2000, and won the 2000 Age Book of the Year Award and Fiction Prize.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2003 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Amy Witting page.
Last modified: July 22, 2003.