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The Essence of the Thing

The Essence of the Thing: Text Classics

Text Classics

Madeleine St John

  • awardShortlisted, Booker Prize, 1997
  • Introduction by Helen Trinca

    ‘My mother sent you this,’ he said.
    ‘I believe it’s some marmalade,’ he said. ‘From the latest batch.’
    ‘How kind,’ said Nicola, opening the bag. ‘You haven’t told them, then?’
    ‘Told them what?’
    ‘That we’re no longer in a shared marmalade situation…’

    Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, this brilliant novel from Madeleine St John, author of The Women in Black, is a comic and tender look at the vicissitudes of love and relationships.

    Nicola should never have stepped out to buy that pack of cigarettes, because the man she discovers in her living room when she returns is not the adorable, straightforward, devoted Jonathan with whom she has been sharing her life.That Jonathan would never have unilaterally decided that she should, as he abruptly put it, ‘move out’. A shocked Nicola packs her bags and sets out bravely on the bumpy course that will take her from the end of an affair to the essence of the thing.

    This edition of The Essence of the Thing comes with an introduction by Helen Trinca, Madeleine St John’s biographer.


    Age: The 25 best Australian novels of the last 25 years     

    Madeleine St John
    About the Author

    Madeleine St John was born in Sydney in 1941. Her father, Edward, was a barrister and Liberal politician. Her mother, Sylvette, committed suicide in 1954, when Madeleine was twelve. Sylvette’s death, Madeleine later said, ‘obviously changed everything’.

    St John studied Arts at Sydney University, where her contemporaries included Bruce...

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    Helen Trinca
    About the Introducer

    Helen Trinca has co-written two previous books: Waterfront: The Battle that Changed Australia and Better than Sex: How a Whole Generation Got Hooked on Work. She has held senior reporting and editing roles in Australian journalism, including a stint as the Australian’s London correspondent, and is currently Managing Editor of the Australian. Her...

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    Text publication date:
    26 June 2013
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    Praise for Madeleine St John
    andThe Essence of the Thing

    ‘Brisk, sophisticated and artful.’

    ‘St John’s intelligence transforms a simple story into a much larger commentary on love and loss.’

    ‘Using spare prose, sparkling dialogue and painfully true observations on family life, St John creates a winning combination of humour and pathos.’

    Other editions ofThe Essence of the Thing
    • The Essence of the Thing
      ISBN: 9781922148636
      26 June 2013
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