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Introduction by Delia Falconer
Esther Prescott has seen little of life outside her wealthy family’s Rose Bay mansion—until flashy Stan Peterson comes roaring up the drive in his huge American car and barges into her life. Within a fortnight they are living in his Kings Cross flat.
Moody and erratic, proud of his well-bred wife yet bitterly resentful of her privilege, Stan is involved with his former girlfriend and a series of shady business deals. Esther, innocent and desperate to please him, must endure his controlling ways.
This story of a troubled and obsessive marriage, set against the backdrop of postwar Sydney, is devastating. First published in 1957, Down in the City announced Elizabeth Harrower as a major Australian writer.
‘a triumph from Text’s project to recover forgotten Australian literature. Doused in melancholy and written from an accessible yet unnerving third-person perspective, Harrower’s debut is a light read with weighty resonance.’
‘The most striking thing about Elizabeth Harrower’s four short novels, written over a decade from the mid-1950s to the mid-60s, is that they are all about people suffering emotional abuse, and yet are a pleasure to read. They are beautiful little nightmares. For while Harrower’s chief interest is suffering—usually the kind hidden inside miserable households—she renders each character’s trauma with pitch-perfect sentences. Turning the last page of one of these novels is to wake from a frightening dream, one felt in every vivid detail…Down in the City marked the arrival of one of the sharpest authors of psychological fiction in Australian literature. Many of the things that happen in the novel are unpleasant, but are rendered with such intensity and psychological insight that the experience of reading about them is thrilling.’