Painted Woman

Painted Woman

by Sue Woolfe
published 1989 Ligature untapped genre Literary Fiction

Always The Gap, I swear I knew about it right from the start. Oh, I see how you in the front row smile and twitch your toes, but I knew. From the moment I broke the first doll’s head and found inside only a brand name. Budget Toys. Synthetic Rubber. When I saw the first Christmas present wrappings emptied of hope. When I knew that the arms holding me could fall by a will that wasn’t mine. When I saw the distance between the breast and me. The dreaded, awesome distance. 

I didn’t need philosophers to point it out, find names, say that it made sense, or nonsense. It was there. But if it was, so was a place where there was no Gap. A place incandescent with meaning.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, became my purpose. From the start. To find that place beyond The Gap, so it would close behind me.

The richly compelling portrait of the artist as a young woman dominated by her violent, overpowering father, a ‘man of genius’ and an artist too. Will she be able to free herself? 

‘An exquisitely intense book … dazzlingly conveyed … such robust, unpitying and honest writing about women that it becomes writing for everyone.’ – Thomas Keneally 

‘Extraordinary, beautiful writing, like a bright light, glancing and flashing across a canvas.’ — Kate Grenville

‘Sue Woolfe writes witty, comic, elegant, noticing prose that is a pleasure to read and savour ... [Hers is] an individual, powerful and important ... voice.’ — John Hanrahan

‘Who is Sue Woolfe and why does she have the power to do strange things to my mind, heart and very marrow? Woolfe’s power and utter compassion ... is a shattering achievement. Her command of a dazzling palette of characters, drama, style and pure poetry is awesome.’ — Hobart Mercury 

First published in 1989, Sue Woolfe’s acclaimed debut novel, Painted Woman, was runner up in the Australian Bicentennial Award. 

Sue Woolfe’s novels include the internationally award-winning bestselling Leaning Towards Infinity (1996), also part of the Untapped Collection; The Secret Cure (2003) and The Oldest Song in the World (2012). Her most recent book is Do You Love Me Or What? (2017). For more information visit