On the cusp of thirty, Coral learns that a thing is growing inside her body. It is not necessarily a complete disaster, she tells herself. I’m okay, she tells herself.
Soon the thing inside her is the size of a plum. ‘Little Plum,’ she says, ‘Little Plum, I love you.’
And she wants to love it, the little plum. It’s just that she can’t yet think of it as what it is becoming: a baby, and not just a piece of fruit.
Coral is tapping and shrugging more than usual. She is trying to stop the creature in her head from taking hold.
Coral might not be okay—or she might be seeing more clearly than anyone.
Bold and sensuous, Little Plum is the stunning follow-up to Laura McPhee-Browne’s award-winning debut, Cherry Beach.
‘I didn’t so much read Little Plum as breathe it. Laura McPhee-Browne has an extraordinary ability to summon the ordinary and fill it with such significance and beauty that one has no choice but to inhabit her novels. At once exquisite and unsettling, dark and tender, Little Plum is a triumph.’
‘Reading McPhee-Browne feels like listening to your own heartbeat.’
‘Little Plum draws us so lightly into the depths that we don’t know how far it’s taken us until we can’t go back. With dark insight and masterly grace, Laura McPhee-Browne reminds us that our bodies can know things we don’t, that experience can save or afflict us, and that possession can invest us with beautiful and terrible things.’
‘An embodied and magical novel—so dark and earthy, colourful and frightening.’
‘A poetic and razor-sharp portrait of motherhood.’
‘[Laura McPhee-Browne] does especially well [in portraying] the coexistence of…parental love with an ongoing, often frightening battle with mental illness. It is depicted not as something to fix but something to understand and live with.’
‘Laura McPhee-Browne’s exquisite, velvety writing creeps up on you unexpectedly…Little Plum is a deeply intimate insight into the mind of a woman who feels alone and scared.’
‘Little Plum is easily readable, quickly immersive, and offers a vibrant character in Coral. McPhee-Browne has deftly articulated the unique experience of becoming a parent and the vulnerability of motherhood—all without shying away from its devils.’
‘Crisp [and] clean…with both clear descriptions and surprising use of imagery…Vivid.’
‘A book on motherhood in all its guises…Beautiful.’
‘[Little Plum] has a rare physicality to it that one can’t help but inhabit…Earthy like stones and juicy as fruit, McPhee-Browne’s hypnotic prose is visceral, intimate and delicious…Little Plum is a tasty literary treat.’
‘Intricate, detailed writing…[and] compassionate storytelling…A tender study of a woman whose heart and mind are desperately trying to be in the right place.’
‘[Laura McPhee-Browne] writes with considerable sensitivity…[Little Plum] is an empathetic, vividly realised novel.’
‘Little Plum evokes with a jewel-like clarity and luminescence the process of nurturing a new life within your body and finding your consciousness transformed by it…Great skill…[McPhee-Browne] never lets us forget that pregnancy is an inside-out transformation.’
‘McPhee-Browne, as ever, writes with distinction.’
‘Equal parts witty and poignant…unique…with fresh and unsettling insights.’
‘McPhee-Browne brings a refreshing and sensitive approach to mental health…[She] keeps it real…Her use of language is impeccable; dreamy as it is precise. Likewise, the book is inventive with its structure…With exquisite detail, McPhee-Browne immerses us in Coral’s mind and behaviours…Little Plum adds itself to the pantheon of novels that explore the ambiguities of the mother–daughter relationship. Reflected in myriad cultural reckonings, from the pomegranate, to the apple, to this book’s little plum, the relentless cycle of birth–death–renewal, love–loss–growth is shown as inescapable.’
‘A deeply moving account of living with anxiety and motherhood.’
‘Richly sensuous…Demonstrates the power of fiction to slice open the quotidian.’
‘McPhee-Browne writes in such a deft and striking manner about mental ill-health…This is an exuberant and empathetic novel.’