The Sydney Morning Herald book review
Elizabeth Jolley was a tricky customer. Whenever I interviewed her on the publication of a new book, she posed as an eccentric, bird-like, rather scatty elderly lady, with singular dress sense (she was fond of cheesecloth and cardigans and always seemed to wear sandals on her large feet) and she had a tendency to avoid direct questions.
She would feign deafness or confusion and when the opportunity came to race ahead with a thought that was irrelevant to the book, she would take it and run. She was skittish and impossible to corral. And very entertaining.
She wrote about lesbians and surrogate mothers, murder and rape, incest and adultery. Her characters were nurses and loners and cleaning ladies. She was drawn to stories of family misunderstandings.
Her periodical returns to triangulated relationships were thought to be a reflection of her own family, in which a neighbour, ”Mr Berrington”, not only came on family holidays but was her Viennese mother’s lover for 20 years from the mid-1930s to his death in 1953, upon which he left her mother a huge inheritance.