cover image The Well-Dressed Explorer

The Well-Dressed Explorer

Thea Astley / Author Penguin Books $6.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-14-

This is a humorous, yet unsparingly honest chronicle of the life of one George Brewster, a likable, if unexceptional man. George makes a career as a reporter and achieves modest success at his Sydney paper; he marries a pleasant woman and quickly affixes her to his life like a new appliance. Much of the narrative concerns George's various adulteries and his wife's acceptance of them, even as they raise their daughter and live an ostensibly average life. That very ordinariness, and how George protects himself against it to maintain his self-satisfaction and illusion of greatness, is the real story here. For 255 pages, we live in Brewster's cozy bubble. For this reason, the Eastern Australia setting does not figure in the novel much, and we learn little of note about life Down Under. But one man's life is convincingly laid bare before us. Astley's (An Item from the Late News, etc.) writing often calls attention to itself, but there are also passages of salient beauty in this formidable and enduring novel. (July)