Eliza Emily Donnithorne lived most of her life in isolation in a large house in the Sydney suburb of Newtown.
She is thought to have been the model for the character of Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, who was jilted at the altar, and became a recluse, wearing her wedding dress, and keeping her wedding banquet set, until the day she died. But did it really happen like this?
The Recluse is the story of Juers’ quest to find the elusive Eliza Donnithorne, who was born in South Africa, and lived in India, England and Australia. It is a lace-work rich in connections and associations, at the heart of which her subject remains, irretrievable and dignified, an assertion of the value of the solitary life.