Currawong Manor is Josephine Pennicott's second Australian gothic mystery novel. Elizabeth Thorrington is a photographer who travels to Currawong Manor, an old house in the Blue Mountains, NSW Australia, to work on a book about what happened at that property in 1945. In that year, her grandfather Rubert Partridge worked there as an artist. He was infamous because of his confronting paintings, whose themes were highly influenced by his time in the second world war. Also, three nude models, called 'The Flowers' were living and working for Rupert, and everyone in the little village believed there were orgies and affairs going on all over the place. In November 1945, Rupert's little daughter Shalimar was found brutally murdered in the Owlbone Woods, and Rupert was hanged after he admitted to have committed the crime.
In 2000, Elizabeth and Nick, the author of the book-to-come, meet Ginger, one of the former 'Flowers' who is now in her 70s, at Currawong Manor. They interview Ginger about how she came to be a Flower and want to find out what really happened back then, because they do not believe in Ruperts responsibility for his daughter's death. About half of the book is therefore told from Ginger's perspective - but it turns out she is not a reliable narrator at all, and that she is lying to Elizabeth as well as to the reader...
Josephine Pennicott is a REALLY talented author. Her descriptions of the house, its gardens, its interior, Ruperts paintings and the woods are extremely vivid. I could visualize it all so well while reading, even if I've never been to Australia. Also the characterization of the personages is done greatly. The older Ginger would be my favorite: a highly eccentric woman who hasn't lost her sex appeal in all those years, even if she's in her 70s now.
I loved the gothic/suspense atmosphere, which origined in the old, dusty house with its towers, the mysterious, creepy woods, the mist that would cover the manor, the witch-like character of Dolly Sharp and the currawong crows that were believed to foretell when someone at the manor was about to die... A great read indeed.
An old house in a tiny village on the northwest coast of Tasmania... the Poet's Cottage. A family history, a brutal murder, secrets and lots of mystery. The recipe for a great story if done well - and Josephine Pennicott did it greatly.
There are two alternating stories - one set in the present with Sadie as main person, and one story set in 1935/36, which is told by Birdie Pinkerton, a friend of Sadies murdered grandmother Pearl. Birdie wrote a book on Pearl years after her death, and it's fascinaThere's an old house standing in a tiny village on the northwest coast of Tasmania... a house that is called 'The Poet's Cottage'. The house has ever authors to it ever since... and so it comes that Sadie moves there with her teenage daughter. Influenced by the ghost stories that still go around the little fisher's town, Sadie is triggered to find out the truth about the death of her grandmother, who was found murdered in her own house in the 1930s. The book is about a family history, a brutal murde and it contains secrets and lots of mystery. The recipe for a great story if done well - and Josephine Pennicott did it greatly.
The book consists of two alternating stories - one set in the present with Sadie as main person, and one story set in 1935/36, which is told by Birdie Pinkerton, a friend of Sadies murdered and grandmother Pearl. Birdie has married Pearl's husband after Pearls death, after having been in love with him forever, and wrote a book on Pearl years after her death. Because Birdie is personally involved with Pearl and is not free of suspect, It's fascinating how the reader has to doubt the full truth of this part of the book.
I loved the character of Pearl and I think the author did a great job on her. I could visualise her so well and I somehow felt sympathy for her, even if she was extremely eccentric, egocentric and rather mean... But one could feel that there was a lot of sadness behind this mask. It was lovely to lose myself in the 1930s - I could hear the jazz music and see the gents and ladies dressed up sipping their cocktails, flirting and talking gossip...
A funny thing to note her is that I was reminded of Daphne du Mauriers "Rebecca" while reading. In the author's afterword (which is great to read as I, the city girl, learned there are indeed villages like Pencubitt, and there really are stories like Poet's Cottage), Josephine Pennicott mentions Du Maurier is one of her favorite authors.