Melbourne-based author Edwina Preston's literary novel, The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer, announces the arrival of a dynamic new Australian writing talent. In the imaginative epic, Preston deftly weaves together a Dickensian sense of mystery, colourful characters and a township at social war with itself, creating a unique and playful tale.
When brothers Arcadia and Otto Cirque arrive in a fading gold-mining town with their travelling circus, Saturnalia, the town and the life of young Marianne Ward will never be the same. Months later, the flamboyant Arcadia Cirque is found dead, a pregnant Marianne Ward goes missing and Otto Cirque sets off in pursuit of her.
These dramatic events echo down the decades to Mrs Ivorie Hammer, who is dealing with her own problems. Pregnant and vexed by recent catastrophic events in her home town, she discovers that her origins are not as she thought. As the small community of Pitch is scandalised by several mysterious deaths and disappearances, it is Ivorie's secret history that holds the key to the truth.
For Preston, the inspiration behind writing The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer came from reading Victorian literature - Dickens, Thackeray and Fielding - and her strong interest in capturing anachronistic devices such as the omniscient narrator; long, digressive sentences; and a colourful cast of characters.
As she states, "I deliberately didn't tie my narrative to a specific place and time so I would have creative freedom and wouldn't be hemmed in by historical accuracy. Certainty the process from initial writing through to the finished novel has been picaresque; long and meandering, with many unexpected fits and starts along the way, and more than a few bumps."
Both a murder mystery and comedy of manners that is never as it seems, The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer is a refreshingly different and engaging novel that will captivate and charm its readers.
Edwina Preston is the author of Not Just a Suburban Boy, a biography of the artist Howard Arkley. Her writing and reviews have appeared in the Age, the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, Heat magazine and the Griffith Review. She lives in Melbourne, where she teaches creative writing at NMIT.
The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer
Author: Edwina Preston