Polly Manaia is working as an exotic dancer in 1960s Sydney's notorious Kings Cross. She's desperate to bring her young daughter to live with her, but beneath her brash confidence lie dark secrets which threaten to drag her under. Gina is excited to live with her mum again. She's mature for an eleven-year-old, but can this young girl cope with Polly's demons?
Rhoda and Star, transgender performers and Polly's flatmates, bring stability to Polly and Gina's lives. Yet this unlikely little family will find itself threatened in more ways than one.
The Jacaranda House is a fascinating portrayal of a shifting society and a beautiful portrait of motherhood and identity.
Of course, once I brought characters back in From the Ashes, I wanted to know what would happen to them next, so I had to write The Jacaranda House. Polly in particular appealed to me because the dark roots of her story were, until recent times, hardly ever talked about. Neither was addiction or gender dysphoria or being gay, except in communities like Kings Cross. And anyway I was dying to set a story in the swinging 60s because of the fashion and the music, which, yes, I actually personally remember.
All the characters shine, you really care for them, and it ends up being a beautiful portrait of love and family… The Jacaranda House is well-written and well-researched and tackles some serious topics, but it is also a page-turning, compelling read. I thought it was fabulous!
Karen McMillan, NZBookLovers