Nicholas Penn has disappeared. Is he dead, as his wife fears, or has he moved to pastures new, as his mistress suspects?
Psyche’s Garden is a new telling of the Psyche and Cupid myth set in Bell, a small town in South Australia - a town in its last gasp, in the grip of drought and decline, standing in the path of a raging bushfire; a town where something of the presence of the gods and their cruel handiwork can be traced…
The novel begins in the modern day with Deidre, a woman from Sydney, visiting the Bell cemetery. Deidre is ostensibly researching local history, but we soon learn that she is seeking to find the man with whom she had had an affair ten years earlier, the father of her son. Deidre has never before been to Bell, but she discovers that her past is entwined with the history of the town in ways she could not have guessed.
Deidre’s presence in Bell is the catalyst for Grace Gaudron to confront long held suspicions about her missing husband. Almost blind, and more than a little eccentric, Grace spends her days deliberating on rumours that Nicholas was duplicitous and involved in the unsolved disappearance of a teenage girl from Bell. When the two women individually discover the truth about Nicholas, their lives are changed forever.
Psyche's Garden follows two narrative strands - past and present - that interweave the stories of the generations of Bell and, at a measured pace, unlock the town’s unpleasant secrets. As the novel unfolds, so too do the tales of intrigue, rape, murder, bitterness, delusion and madness, and in such a way that the reader can only make sense of the picture being woven once the tapestry is complete. There will be judgement, albeit in the nature of a purging and, as the curse of the gods appears to have run its course, there is, as well, redemption.
Psyche's Garden is both mystical and mysterious, but it is placed within a very solid tale of family, friends, murder and lust.