A self-absorbed young musician comes as a pupil-boarder to the house of an 'old European' family. Gradually his life is taken over and consumed, seemingly, by dark, mysterious forces within as much as outside himself. Milk and Honey is a strangely haunting novel. While much of what we have come to expect and admire in Elizabeth Jolley's work is powerfully present - vivid and diverse characters, pathos, humour and acute perceptions of people and their situations - it is in many ways quite unlike anything she has previously written. A work of gothic proportions, Milk and Honeyis an astonishing tapestry of character and incident that surprises and yet never fails to convince.
Elizabeth Jolley was one of Australia's most celebrated writers, with a formidable international reputation. She was recognised in Australia with an AO for services to literature and was awarded Honorary Doctorates from Curtin University (1986); Macquarie (1995), Queensland (1997) and The University of New South Wales (2000). Born in England in 1923, she was brought up in a strict, German-speaking household and attended a Quaker boarding school. She became a nurse, married Leonard Jolley and with three children moved to Western Australia in 1959. In 1974 she started teaching creative writing at Fremantle Arts Centre. Although she wrote all her life, it was not until she was in her fifties that her books started to receive the recognition they deserved. She won The Age Book of the Year Award on three separate occasions (for Mr Scobie's Riddle, My Father's Moon and The Georges' Wife) and she won the Miles Franklin Award for The Well, as well as many other awards. Her last two novels published by Penguin were An Accommodating Spouse (1999) and An Innocent Gentleman (2001). Her non-fiction collection, Learning to Dance was published in 2006. Elizabeth Jolley died in 2007.