A masterful and tender story about people who live at the fringes of society, from payday to payday. Acutely observed and lyrical, Paddy O Reilly’s novel paints a haunting picture of class, aspiration and the boundaries we will cross for love.
by Paddy O’Reilly
Affirm Press Australia, March 2022
(via Kaplan/Defiore Rights)
All those memories. A man on his knees. The dark burn of Coke washing down a yellow wall. The night someone strung dead bats along the school fence, their black leather wings shredded into streamers. I never want to revisit that life.
Lily works as a cleaner. Each day she moves through the houses of wealthy Melbournians, unseen, scrubbing away the detritus of other people’s privilege. Her partner Janks, a reformed drug addict, churns vats of cheesy dip in a factory. With every measly pay check they inch further and further away from their former lives of poverty and addiction. Both Janks and Lily are determined that their daughter Jewelee won’t end up like them. She’ll have a career, not a deadend job. She’ll have savings, not debt. She’ll be able to afford a cleaner, not be the cleaner. Her future will be bright. But, like Sisyphus, one wrong move in their upward battle will see them back at square one, fighting to just get by.
Paddy O’Reilly is an Australian author. She wrote the novels The Factory, The Fine Colour of Rust and The Wonders, two collections of award-winning short stories, and a novella. Her novels have been shortlisted for major awards, and her stories have been widely published, anthologised and broadcast in Australia and overseas.