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The House of Fiction: Leonard, Susan and Elizabeth Jolley
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The House of Fiction: Leonard, Susan and Elizabeth Jolley

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Susan Swingler is the step-daughter of one of Australia’s most revered writers – Elizabeth Jolley. Abandoned by her father Leonard at the age of four, Susan had no contact with the Jolley family until they found and reclaimed her at the age of twenty-one. Why they were kept apart is the subject of this startling new memoir.

The House of Fiction tells the story of Swingler’s
ebook, 1, 322 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Fremantle Press (first published January 5th 2012)
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Yeah. 8 May - advised that I am to receive a First Reads copy of this book, which is one I would have bought anyway. How good is that? Can't wait for this one.


So, here is my review of The House of Fiction, by Susan Swingler:

Elizabeth Jolley is one of those names in literary circles, particularly here in Western Australia. She is right up there with Tim Winton, with Patrick White, with Helen Garner, giants of Australian literature. To not appreciate her work is to be, in the
Triecia Gibney
Susan's story stayed with me long after I started reading another. Susan's very moving account describes years of deceit perpetrated by her father and step mother seemingly so her father would not have to face criticism by his family. As a result of the secrecy surrounding her father's affair and subsequent abandonment of his wife and child Susan was denied access to her extended family and all the love that could have been shared throughout her childhood. Susan writes beautifully and generously ...more
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Every family has secrets - it's just a whole lot more interesting when you are reading about the bizarre back-story of a well-known author. This book is partly about Elizabeth Jolley - writer of fiction and, as we discover in this book, creator of real-life fiction which that impacts on the writer of this text Susan Swingler.

In 1967, when Swingler married in England at the age of 21, she received congratulatory cards from an aunt and an uncle she didn't know she had. When she asked about these
Cass A
I was interested because Elizabeth Jolley used to be a customer at the bookshop I worked at in Perth, and she seemed like a lovely person. But a patron at the library I work at now mentioned there was more to her story, and recommended this book. I found it interesting but a bit laborious to get through...
It was a bit drawn out but having seen a tv show about the story (Australian Story on the ABC) I really wanted to read the book.

It left some questions unanswered as the author herself hadn't felt comfortable in confronting her father to find the truth.

An amazing but very sad true story.
Stefani Akins
When I first heard about Elizabeth Jolley, she was nothing more than a character in someone else's story, namely, English professor to Perth musician David McComb. It was long after I'd finished "Vagabond Holes", the anecdotal biography of David and his band, the Triffids, that I even figured out Jolley was not only an author, but a venerated one in quite a few Anglo-Saxon countries (although my home country, Germany, clearly does not fall into this category). I picked up a couple of her books, ...more
Wendy Orr
I was reluctant to read this at first, as I greatly admire Elizabeth Jolley's fiction and didn't want to see an idol toppled. However I thought Susan Swingler's story of discovering the fiction created by her father and stepmother - a fiction that had denied her the chance of meeting any relatives and to some extent denied her very existence – was surprisingly restrained and even compassionate, while being searingly honest about her own emotions. Not all our book group agreed: her reticence and ...more
Helena Aarons
Elizabeth Jolley was my favourite Australian author and I have read over the years all her books. This book talks about Elizabeth and husband Leonard and their behaviour towards Leonard's first wife and his daughter. I found it an interesting book and an enjoyable read.
I would probably give this book 2.5 stars but should not really rate it as I did not quite get to the end.
This was the latest from our book club group.
Although I found the story quite intriguing it kept going along at the same pace, not really getting anywhere.
Was probably very theraputic for the author.
Jennifer Rolfe
At age 4 Susan Swingler was told her dad was going to Scotland to find a house for them to live in. He never came back. He went to live with Elizabeth Jolley and his other daughter who was born within 5 weeks of Susan. The plot goes on from there. How Elizabeth Jolley and Leonard Jolley went on to protect themselves from outside criticism is the basis of this story. Susan told it so well with lots of documentation. She focused on her father rather than Elizabeth. Such a well written gripping tal ...more
I really enjoyed this powerful and moving memoir - it had all the elements I need to keep me engaged and interested - strong characters, a great story and several well known identities (Elizabeth Jolley to name but one).

We all have skeletons in our family closets, but the Jolley Family secret is a doozy and one so well hidden, it took Susan 40 years to uncover.

A moving, thought provoking novel that has forever changed the way I perceive the works of the late Elizabeth Jolley.
Fascinating memoir about family secrets. As this one involves a famous Australian author its intriguing to wonder how much of her personal life and the secrets influenced the writing. My only criticism - I thought the author was too balanced and sensitive! I wanted her to be more angry but that's me pushing my values onto the author and expecting her to feel the way I would. Highly recommended.
Helen Windle
An interesting biography and a great true story of deception by one of Australia's leading authors - although in the end I think she meant well - it took me 4 days to read it!
Ayshe Talay-Ongan
Such composure and grace in the face of deceit... Yet characters you'd love to hate come across as flawed humans seeking redemption as best they know how. A refined and meticulous work; I'll go read more of Jolley now.
Anni Webster
Average writing, but fascinating story and very brave, respectful and honest account of a life thwarted by family secrets.
Sally Carveth
Fascinating read & very enjoyable. Has prompted me to read more Elizabeth Jolley, & from a different viewpoint.
Was heading towards four stars but it went on and on and on in the end.
Sean Kennedy
A fascinating story, undermined by some slightly-above average writing.
Gayle Powell
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