The secrets of Leonard and Elizabeth Jolley

Francesca Rendle-Short


The House of Fiction: Leonard, Susan and Elizabeth Jolley
by Susan Swingler
Fremantle Press, $24.95 pb, 322 pp, 9781921888663


‘Everything should not be told, it is better to keep some things to yourself.’ So begins Susan Swingler’s The House of Fiction with this quote from much-loved Australian novelist Elizabeth Jolley as an epigraph. And what a loaded beginning it is, too, given the subject matter of this memoir: the discovery by Swingler of the fraudulent and secret double life her father Leonard Jolley led with Elizabeth (or Monica Knight, as she was called), his second wife. In this family drama, which began in England, there are two women who were once friends and who look uncannily alike, two daughters whose names begin with S who were born to these women at almost exactly the same time, and, centre-stage, one taciturn father, Leonard Jolley.

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Published in May 2012 no. 341
Francesca Rendle-Short

Francesca Rendle-Short

Francesca Rendle-Short grew up in Queensland and now lives in Melbourne. She is the author of Bite Your Tongue (2011) and Imago (1996), both published by Spinifex Press. She has worked variously as a radio producer, teacher, editor, freelance writer, and arts journalist. Francesca has a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong and is currently the Program Director of Creative Writing at RMIT.

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