Guest Review: The Vera Wright Trilogy by Elizabeth Jolley
Note from Nat: Every so often, I receive unsolicited books for review that I don’t have the time or inclination to read. The Vera Wright Trilogy arrived in my postbox, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to undertake a novel of this magnitude right now. I’d seen it around the blogs and didn’t want to let it slip by, so I sent it to my cousin for a guest review. I’ve been on her case to start a book blog, but she’s hesitant. Hopefully, doing this guest post will sway her to jump into the fray!
Author: Elizabeth Jolley
Genre/Pages: Fiction/ 552
Rating: 2 bookmarks
Kristine’s One Sentence Synopsis: This highly acclaimed 500 plus page volume contains three interlinked, autobiographical novels that follows the life of Vera Wright beginning in 1939, war time England.
In these three novels, My Father’s Moon, Cabin Fever and The Georges’ Wife, Jolley’s protagonist, Vera Wright, leaves school to become a wartime nurse in London. The trilogy follows Vera as she experiences various dalliances and sexual encounters with both men and women, gives birth to two illegitimate daughters, and after a long illness leaves England for Australia where she finally weds the father of one of her daughters.
The story is told in the first person and always in the present tense, although Jolley jockeys back and forth in time with her narratives. This approach left me reeling, and I was a good 25 pages into the story until I was cognizant of her technique. And while some may disagree with me, I found the lack of continuity initially confusing and ultimately disconcerting.
The other problem I had with the volume was actually relating to the protagonist. It is critical for me to connect with a novel’s main character on some emotional level, and I found that I was unable to do that. I did not understand Vera’s choices in life – her narcissism and self absorption at the expense of her family, children, and ultimately her health.
It is not necessary for a reader to agree with a character’s choices, but I found that I could not even identify or sympathize with them. Lest you think I am a complete incompetent, I do want to give credit where due, and the trilogy contained some profound observations, droll witticisms, and beautiful prose. “Bereavement . . . is to experience the kind of despair for which the only remedy is to lie on the warm earth dissolving the long hours in tears.”
This trilogy really requires a true commitment from the reader, and I found myself having to ‘man up’ for another chapter and go round.
Guest Review by A Southern Cousin