On a balmy midsummer's evening in 1923, a young woman - foreign, dishevelled, and heavily pregnant - is found unconscious just off the railway tracks in the tiny logging community of Woody Creek. The town midwife, Gertrude Foote, is roused from her bed when the woman is brought to her door. Try as she might, Gertrude is unable to save her, but the baby lives.
©2009 Joy Dettman. (P)2009 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
When no relatives come forth to claim the infant, Gertrude's daughter, Amber - who has recently lost a son in childbirth - and her husband, Norman, take the child in. In the ensuing weeks, Norman becomes convinced that God has sent the baby to their door, and in an act of reckless compassion and lonely desperation, he names the baby Jennifer and registers her in place of his son.
Loved by some but scorned by more, including her stepmother and sister, Jenny survives her childhood and grows into an exquisite and talented young woman. But who were her parents? And why does she so strongly resemble an old photograph of Gertrude's philandering husband?
Spanning two momentous decades and capturing rural Australia's complex and mysterious heart, Pearl in a Cage is the new novel by one of our most talented storytellers.