Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 6, 2018

Sensational Snippets: Adam’s Bride (1972), by Elizabeth Jolley

Adam’s Bride is a short story by Elizabeth Jolley that’s available as a Penguin Special for a song.  It is a delicious introduction to Jolley’s writing if you haven’t read her before.

This is the blurb: In a small Australian country town, a young woman is accused of the murders of her own daughter and the local rat catcher’s wife. As she stands to face the charges in court, a stranger enters, determined to explain her crimes.

And this is vintage Jolley introducing her characters and her setting.

All small towns in the country have some sort of blessing. In one place there is a stretch of river which manages to retain enough water for swimming during the summer; in another, the wife of the policeman is able to make dresses for bridesmaids, and in yet another, the cook at the hotel turns hairdresser on Saturday afternoons. The little town below the escarpment had its blessing, it had its own courthouse. Built just after the turn of the century, it was sedately ornamental outside and freezing cold inside for most of the year. On very hot days the court-house heated up amazingly and stayed hot and airless for longer than any other building in the town. For the townspeople the court-house supplemented the cinema. It had two advantages over the cinema: the characters were alive and often known by or related to the audience, and the entertainment was not confined to three evenings a week. It started early in the morning and, on good days, went through continuously till three o’clock in the afternoon. There was nothing the people liked better than coming to the court-house. Some came daily in the hope of witnessing the degradation and, even better, the punishment of either strangers or their neighbours. And there was always the hope that some person, in a high position respected by all, would be brought down by foolishness or indiscretion for all the world to see and to talk about.

Jolley, Elizabeth. Adam’s Bride: Penguin Special: Penguin Special (Kindle Locations 33-43). Penguin Random House Australia. Kindle Edition.

For the time poor who want to join in Elizabeth Jolley Week but have time only for a quick sample of her style, this edition (available in print and on Kindle) also includes the story ‘Woman in a Lampshade’. Update, the next day: Sorry, I misread the table of contents.  ‘Woman in a Lampshade’ is a collection of short stories, also published by Penguin.


  1. Oh, she is too too funny! It’s all done so matter-of-factly. I read a couple of paragraphs from my read out to Mr Gums last night. So good.

    I hope to have my review up by Friday and then, if I can, I’ll do a short story on the weekend. But, we’ll see. I thought I’d have had my review done by today, but the week has turned out busier than I expected.


    • No one could do schadenfreude like her!
      Thanks for your support, Sue, I’m looking forward to your thoughts:)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love that quote about small towns. So true.


  3. I like what I see in these quotations. One for later, I think.


  4. I’ve never lived in a town with a rat catcher. I wonder who paid him. In fact I’m not sure I’ve lived anywhere that had a rat problem.


    • Sydney and Melbourne both had rat problems in their slums, right up to the 1930s and maybe 40s. I think the equivalent to the rat catcher today is the pest control companies.


  5. […] Bride’, as can be seen in the Sensational Snippet that I posted yesterday begins with vintage Jolley: a sly description of a town’s […]


  6. […] See Lisa’s ANZ LitLovers review of the Penguin Special edition of ‘Adam’s Bride’ from this collection and a Sensational Snippet […]


  7. […] Bride’, as can be seen in the Sensational Snippet that I posted yesterday begins with vintage Jolley: a sly description of a town’s […]


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