The House at Number 10
Wakefield Press, $27.50 pb, 257 pp
Canberra-based Dorothy Johnston is an accomplished writer who has twice been short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award. Her talent for spare, casually evocative prose and slyly complex characters shines through in this surprisingly elegant novel about a single mother who turns to prostitution to earn a living.
‘Trick lit’ is a popular, almost tired, genre at the moment, but The House at Number 10 manages to transcend the clichés (and purple prose). Johnston strips prostitution of its seedy glamour, including observations about uneven bedposts and the Tracy Chapman CD playing in the kitchen alongside the inevitable naked body parts and sweating clients. Sophie, a former public servant and recent housewife, is small and plain, and wears a sarong as her uniform.