An acute and powerful picture of small-town life, and a young girl with a terrible secret.
'I need some help digging a grave. It's Mum.'
Elise is nearly 16 when one hot, dry day her mother dies. She knows that if the authorities find out, she and her younger brother, Jeremy, will be separated and taken into care. Jeremy is all she has. Jeremy and Isaac, the shaggy, taciturn recluse who lives on the hill, and Ron, the neighbour with the runaway wife and sinister eyes.
As she papers over her mother's absences for the town busybodies, Elise wonders how she can keep up the pretence, and what compromises she is making for her own future. It could all go on indefinitely - the deception, the growing tension between her and her brother, the uncertainty. But then a young man, a stranger, comes to town, and then the rains come, and everything changes.
Penelope Sell paints a picture of the secrets of small-town life, of long-ago events that reach down into the present, and a young woman determined to find her own path in life. Eloquent and moving, this novel announces the arrival of a significant new talent.
Penelope Sell lives in Castlemaine, Victoria, and has two children. This is her first novel. She is currently working on her second.