An unwed mother tries working in an impoverished boarding school and finds herself yearning for the nurse she fell in love with back when both were working in a military hospital in England during WWII.
My Father’s Moon is the first of three books in The Vera Wright Trilogy, an autobiographical series that has long been out-of-print. Highly praised in its time, Elizabeth Jolley‘s work wasn’t widely known outside of her native Australia until now.
Based on My Father’s Moon, I daresay Ms. Jolley’s reputation at home deserves to be expanded abroad. Her writing combines an elliptically modernist structure with classically rigorous character work, and I suppose she bears comparison to Virginia Woolf in that regard.
Vera is an oddly slippery character, in that it’s hard to understand her motivations and choices. I’m not saying this as a criticism; rather, it’s a result of the way that Jolley has chosen to tell the story, using flashbacks that are sometimes indistinguishable from the main action. She links the different times together using Vera’s invocation of the name Ramsden, the last name of the woman she loved. It’s a powerful technique, evoking longing and regret in equal measure.
I was quite impressed by Jolley and glad for the opportunity to be exposed to her work.
Many thanks to Persea for the review copy.