Introduced by Delia Falconer.
Esther Prescott has seen little of life outside her wealthy family's Rose Bay mansion—until flashy Stan Peterson comes roaring up the drive in his huge American car and barges into her life. Within a fortnight they are living in his Kings Cross flat.
Moody and erratic, proud of his well-bred wife yet bitterly resentful of her privilege, Stan is involved with his former girlfriend and a series of shady business deals. Esther, innocent and desperate to please him, must endure his controlling ways.
This story of a troubled and obsessive marriage, set against the backdrop of postwar Sydney, is devastating. First published in 1957, Down in the City announced Elizabeth Harrower as a major Australian writer.
About the Author
Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928 but her family soon relocated to Newcastle where she lived until she was eleven. After leaving school she worked as a clerk and studied psychology. In 1951 Harrower moved to London. She travelled extensively and she began to write fiction. Her first novel Down in the City was published in 1957, and was followed by The Long Prospect a year later. In 1959 she returned to Sydney where she began working for the ABC and as a book reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald. In 1960 she published The Catherine Wheel, the story of an Australian law student in London, her only novel not set in Sydney. The Watch Tower appeared in 1966. No further novels were published though Harrower continued to write short fiction. Her work is austere, intelligent, ruthless in its perceptions about men and women. She was admired by many of her contemporaries, including Patrick White and Christina Stead, and is without doubt among the most important writers of the postwar period in Australia. Elizabeth Harrower lives in Sydney.
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Comments about Down in the City:
This is the long-awaited re-issue of the first novel by the excellent Elizabeth Harrower.
Rachel's aunt has taught her that one day a handsome young man will ride up and claim her as his own.
Stan drives up in his flashy Cadillac and whisks over-protected thirty-something Esther off to live down in the city. In another of the flats in the King's Cross building lives Rachel and the women become friends as they make what they can of their lives.
Harrower does not write fairy tales. Her masterpiece is her fourth novel, The Watchtower. With this re-issue, readers will discern correspondences between the two: between Esther and Laura, and Rachel and Clare, though Stan is no Felix Shaw.
I recommend this book highly. Read it! Read both! Read the other two novels by Elizabeth Harrower. If you're like me, you won't be able to put them down.
'The most striking thing about Elizabeth Harrower's four short novels, written over a decade from the mid-1950s to the mid-60s, is that they are all about people suffering emotional abuse, and yet are a pleasure to read. They are beautiful little nightmares. For while Harrower's chief interest is suffering-usually the kind hidden inside miserable households-she renders each character's trauma with pitch-perfect sentences. Turning the last page of one of these novels is to wake from a frightening dream, one felt in every vivid detail...Down in the City marked the arrival of one of the sharpest authors of psychological fiction in Australian literature. Many of the things that happen in the novel are unpleasant, but are rendered with such intensity and psychological insight that the experience of reading about them is thrilling.' * Australian * 'a triumph from Text's project to recover forgotten Australian literature. Doused in melancholy and written from an accessible yet unnerving third-person perspective, Harrower's debut is a light read with weighty resonance.' -- Readings
Series: Text Classics
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 23rd October 2013
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.9 x 12.9 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.22