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.
Laura McPhee-Browne is a writer and social worker living in Melbourne, on Wurundjeri land. Her short stories have been published widely in Australia. Laura also volunteers as a fiction editor for the literary magazine Verity La. Cherry Beach is her first novel.
Image: Cherry Beach – courtesy of Text Publishing