CHERRY BEACH is an upcoming debut novel by Melbourne writer Laura McPhee-Browne, out 4 February in Australia. Told from the perspective of Ness, this is a story about her move from Melbourne to Toronto with her friend since childhood, Hetty. Growing up, Ness lived a little in Hetty’s shadow, and details of this slowly unfurl in flashbacks we return to throughout the narrative. What complicates this is that Ness is completely enamored by Hetty, unbeknownst to her. When they move to Toronto, Ness finds a new lease on life, and quite literally a new love with a woman she meets in an art gallery (no spoilers, this is in the blurb!). This is juxtaposed against Hetty’s physical and mental decline as she spirals into a vicious cycle of relationships with bad men and drugs.
The beauty in this story for me was how richly these women are written, and how evocative the imagery around them is – the sensory language that reflects the undulations Ness experiences emotionally as the plot develops are particularly striking.
This was a captivating read that I felt myself racing through, and the actual narrative itself was incredibly haunting and moving. I also recommend going back to re-read the first chapter (if not the entire text!) once you finish… lots to ponder! Definitely some #AusLit to check out, and an author I’ll avidly watch for new releases from going forward.
Many thanks to Text Publishing for a review copy. If you’re an Australian reader, you can pre-order a copy via Readings here, and if you’re an international reader you can pre-order a copy via Book Depository here (affiliate link).