Lauren K's Reviews > Poet's Cottage

Poet's Cottage by Josephine Pennicott
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's review
Mar 16, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: aww2012, aussie-author, crime-mystery
Read on March 16, 2012

Poet’s Cottage is an absorbing novel entwined with mystery, inter-generational secrets and intrigue, set in a ghostly town in Tasmania.

When her mother dies, Sadie inherits the Tatlow family home, Poet’s Cottage in the coastal fishing town of Pencubbit, Tasmania. Pearl Tatlow was the eccentric grandmother whose legacy of outlandish behaviour and uninhibited ways is still the talk of the town, even two generations after Pearl was brutally murdered in the cellar and her murder never found. Pearl was a children’s writer and bore two daughters, Marguerite (Sadie’s mother) and Thomasina.

Sadie, also a writer returns to her mother’s childhood home to uncover the truth of her grandmother’s death and to write her story. But she uncovers that Pearl, who was always portrayed as a lively, wonderful mother had many enemies in Pencubbit, including her daughter Thomasina who claimed her mother was abusive and mentally unstable.

Sadie is separated from her husband who left her for a young new age woman and moves into Poet’s Cottage with her teenage daughter, Betty who is recovering from an eating disorder.

There are many quirky characters in the story including close to one hundred year old Birdie Pinkerton who had a long-term relationship with Maxwell (Pearl’s husband) following the murder. Sadie makes friends with outspoken Maria and Canadian Gracie who owns most of the heritage estates in the town.

The author alternates the POV of Sadie and Betty in the present day deciphering the puzzle of their grandmother’s past as well as excerpts from Birdie’s memoir which tells her perspective of events in the 1930′s that lead to the eventual death of Pearl Tatlow.

Poet’s Cottage was inspired by the life of children’s author, Enid Blyton, whose daughters to this day have conflicting opinions on her role as a good mother. During a family holiday to a coastal town in Tasmania, the author was mesmerised by a big white Georgian style cottage by the sea that became known as Poet’s Cottage.

Poet’s Cottage is a ghostly mystery which spans three generations and covers themes of mental illness, infidelity, childhood abuse and the dramas of a small town in the 1930’s.

In the author’s note, Josephine says she set out to create an English-style mystery but with an Australian setting and I think she captured this perfectly. When I read this, I felt as captivated as I did when I read Sara Foster’s ghostly mystery Beneath the Shadows- which I also loved.

Highly recommended!
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