Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
In a sense, all of Elizabeth Jolley’s fiction is about how one’s feelings about people, places, and facts affect one’s perception of them. This subjectivity extends even to the reader’s perception of the story. The elements that constitute Jolley’s writing include narrative methods that do not follow a chronological line and characters who tend to be outsiders—exiles, misfits, the questionably sane, and lonely, disregarded, apparently ordinary people. Humor, as well as pathos, is a strong characteristic of Jolley’s writing; she once said, “I can’t help seeing the ridiculous side of everything.” A simple, natural, straightforward style tends to contrast with the eccentric, bizarre, or weird characters that inhabit much of her work. Jolley hoped that her readers would be creative, imaginative people. Reading Jolley is not a passive activity, but it is a very rewarding one.