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2021 - Winner
Cherry Beach is a moving coming-of-age novel that explores the powerful friendship between two young women, Ness and Hetty, who leave Melbourne to live abroad. The novel charts the unravelling of their friendship over a period of months, as Hetty becomes increasingly unstable, and Ness is overwhelmed by a love for Hetty that she struggles to acknowledge. A novel of sure and accurate brush strokes, Cherry Beach is remarkable for its distinctive authorial voice and the poetic precision of its language.
This is a commanding and fearless work that vividly figures states of yearning and sadness, darkness and damage. What is the line, it asks, that separates friendship from love? What is the extent of our obligation to others when communication fractures or fails? And how do you navigate the aftermath of great loss? An extraordinary new voice, McPhee-Browne tracks with sensitivity the uncertainty of breakdown, and the transformative power of desire.