Time Enough Later (Paperback)
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In the late 1930s young Bessie Drew is working in a biscuit factory in Sydney. Her family are not well off, and it feels like arguing is their only way of communicating. Working around her father's violent obstreporousness and her mother's pinched shrewishness, she and her siblings only enter the fray if they can't avoid it, thus further developing the Drew family's specialty of constant nag.
Her mother's latest lodger, Maurice Wainwright, has pretensions of grandeur. He is an uncelebrated out of work photographer and would-be inventor, ill and down on his luck. He and Bessie somehow see something in each other, and she becomes his helpmeet. When he recovers and starts work on a new photographic studio, Bessie leaves the factory, drifting into the role of his assistant. Her level-headedness and no-nonsense attitude are valuable qualities for a dreamer like Maurice, and help to keep the creditors at bay.
Slowly their relationship turns from mates to more. But Bessie, despite enjoying the freedom from factory drudgery, and Maurice's colourful friends, both political and arty, finds that a different kind of bondage becomes her lot: she's ultimately just a cleaner and dogsbody. And on the personal level, Maurice's egotism and slipperiness is proving hard to take; only a kind of resigned sympathy keeps her there.
When Maurice's witty and eccentric associate Esther Gullick invites them to her simple bush hut in the mountains, little does Bessie know that the new horizons that expand for her there will cast several spokes in the wheel. Her yearning for something more in life sets the cat among the pigeons It's going to be a bumpy ride.
With downrightness and wit, Kylie Tennant used her memories of a past relationship to superb effect in this generously comic, bitterly phlegmatic novel of the struggles of youth to find its place in the world. Time Enough Later was her fourth novel, published first in the US early in 1943, and later in the UK and Australia in 1945.