We arrived on a Tuesday, I can remember that. I can remember Hetty’s hand in mine as we moved slowly down the steps of the escalator, as if standing completely still would have been harder than moving.
Hetty and Ness, best friends since childhood, have left suburban Melbourne for the first time to live abroad. Hetty is charming and captivating, the life of the party. Ness is a wallflower, hopelessly in love with her. In the student quarter of Toronto, the pair take a room in a share house full of self-assured creatives. Hetty disappears into barkeeping work and a whirlwind nightlife, while Ness drifts aimlessly.
But when Ness finds Faith one day in the art gallery, an intense affair develops. There are new friends, too, and a job: at last her life starts to make some sense. And Hetty’s starts spectacularly to fall apart, in a mess of bad drugs and bad men.
As winter freezes the lakeside city, the dark undercurrents of Hetty’s character—abusive relationships, a dangerous obsession with bodies of water—become ever stronger. Ness may lose the person she loves more than anyone else in the world.
Beautifully written and intimate, Cherry Beach is a revelatory story of friendship and desire.
Laura McPhee-Browne is a writer and social worker living in Melbourne, on Wurundjeri land. Her short stories have been published widely in Australia. Cherry Beach is her first novel. lauramcpheebrowne.com
‘Laura McPhee-Browne’s Cherry Beach is an acute and gripping novel about being made and unmade by first love. In prose reminiscent of Elizabeth Jolley’s, McPhee-Browne portrays the helpless entanglement of two friends in their impossible quest for self-determination. Cherry Beach is a breathtaking debut by a gifted new voice in Australian fiction.’ Ellena Savage
‘A melancholy exploration of mental health, female friendship and desire, delicately portraying the deep ache of losing the person you’re closest to...A promising debut.' Books+Publishing