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Jessica Summary

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'Jessica' by Bryce Courtenay is set in the Australian Bush and follows the life Jessica, in her desperate struggle to survive and be accepted. The book begins before the outbreak of World War I and continues finally finishing after the end of that war. Jessica's life revolved around hardship, disaster and injustice. The three people she loved in life, Joe, Jack and Joey, all were taken away from her and she was left alone. Her life was an unhappy saga that finished reminding us that not all endings are happy.

Jessica was a tomboy who helped her father Joe on their small farm near Narrandera. Joe was the only one in the family who loved and accepted her. Her mother and beautiful sister both hated her for dressing like a man and working on the farm. Jessica was stubborn and not self confident as she was told at least once a day by her mother that she was ugly and would never get married. In 1910, Jessica was 14, she got a job being a tar boy at a shearing shed. That was when she first became friends with Jack and Billy. Jack was rich and Jessica's mother wanted her other daughter Meg to marry him.

Early 1914 Jessica came home to find Billy Simple up a tree. No one was there but her. Billy had brain damage because he tried to defend her once and a horse kicked him in the head. Many people teased him especially Jacks family when Jack wasn't around. Billy was wearing blood stained clothes and had murdered Jack's mother and sisters. Jessica took Billy to the court so that he wouldn't be murdered by the lynch mob. Billy lost his case and was hung the day the war was declared.

The war was only within weeks away and Jack was asked to go to Sydney. Jessica was devastated and later that night Jack told her that if he came back he would marry her. Just before he went to Sydney Jessica went to the doctor was found to be pregnant. Her family foreboded her from seeing Jack before he left and they made her stay in a small hut away from the house. The rest of the family went to Sydney and told Jack that Meg was pregnant and that he had to marry her. He did unwillingly. Joe had a heart attack the day after Jessica had her baby. Hester told Jessica that she couldn't take the baby to the funeral and to leave it with Meg. At the funeral Hester told everyone that Meg had had her baby and when Jessica said it was her child they put her in a mental institute.

Jessica was in the Mental institute for four years, from 1915 to 1918. During this time Jack died and his estate and possessions were left to his son Joey Thomas. While in the institute Jessica sent many letters to Meg and Hester to get her out. She got no reply. She became friends with Moishe and his father Solly who visited



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