Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 17, 2009

Opening Lines: The Well Dressed Explorer by Thea Astley(1962)

The Well Dressed ExplorerIn 1962 the joint winners of the Miles Franklin Award were  George Turner for The Cupboard Under the Stairs and Thea Astley for The Well Dressed Explorer.  I haven’t got a copy of The Cupboard Under the Stairs yet but these are the opening lines of The Well Dressed Explorer.

The weight of her on his shoulders was almost too much for him.

They circled the room, the boy on all fours, and he was on the point of collapsing to his elbows with the hiccuping laughter and the pain: the pain as she drove her heels in and said ‘Giddap, jumbo!’; and the laughter as he turned his pale straining face to one side, to glimpse her leaning smile.  ‘Giddap, jumbo!’ Abruptly the scream in his tendons dissolved in a supersonic agony and there he was, sprawling on his face while she lurched forward to topple over him onto the dusty playroom floor.  A glimpse of navy knickers and plump thighs.  Jumbo.  Disentangled, they rolled on their backs, coughing and spluttering out the last of the tomfoolery and the images of their burlesque into the breathing-space of an armistice. (p7)

Supersonic agony? Well, I guess it was a trendy new concept back then…

Update: I sourced a copy of The Cupboard Under the Stairs, see my review here.

Author: Thea Astley
Title: The Well Dressed Explorer
Publisher: Angus & Robertson, First Edition, 1961, no ISBN


  1. LOL Lisa. Last night I started my third Favourite authors post which, as you probably know, is to be Thea Astley. I will post it today or tomorrow.


    • Oh excellent, I got a swag of Thea Astleys in that pile of loot that I got from Brotherhood Books! All I’ve read of hers so far is Drylands, which I thought was superb, and I dimly remember an ABC series called A Descant for Gossips…


  2. Yes, I saw you had some in there. Drylands is great – it has been optioned for a movie but that was a while ago and I fear it’s not happening which is a shame.


    • Yes, that happens all too often, someone options it to make sure no one else gets it, and then nothing happens… Was the recent ABC series Rainshadow based on The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow? That was a great series.


  3. Does anyone here have an opinion on Astley’s It’s Raining In Mango? It’s been on my shelf for a few months now and I’m wondering how long I should leave it there before I read it.


  4. That’s not one that I have…alas. There’s a synopsis on the old Middlemiss site, see and it must have been a set text at some stage because there’s a swag of sites offering essays about it.


  5. DKS, I have read it but 20 years ago so can’t recollect a lot except that I liked it. It deals with families, bigotry, religion and indigenous relations in FNQ (Far North Queensland!). I recollect loving her use of language to convey that awful cloying tropical atmosphere and the behaviour of the people caught within it.


  6. Thanks. I think I’ll put it down as, “Want to read, but not oh-my-god urgently. Will read other books first.”


    • Always a struggle, manipulating the TBR, eh?


  7. […] Slow Natives by Thea Astley  Thea Astley won her first Miles Franklin Award in 1962 with The Well Dressed Explorer , but she had to share it with George Turner for The Cupboard Under the […]


  8. […] take Thea Astley’s The Well-dressed Explorer down off the shelf.  I have already posted the Opening Lines of this novel (back in 2009, when this blog was near-new!) and I also reviewed George […]


  9. […] you will know if you have viewed the Opening Lines or my more recent Sensational Snippet, there is much to love about Thea Astley’s The […]


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: