Amanda's Circus

The Cherrywood Box

I am absolutely thrilled that my novel, The Cherrywood Box , has been successful in The Yeovil Prize, The Eludia Awards and won an SLS Fellowship. It is time to send it out to agents. I’ll inevitably have to face a pile of rejection letters but c’est la vie. It has been edited, re-read, edited, re-read and edited and edited and edited and re-read. Now it needs a spoonful of luck. Here’s a little more about the book.

A secret is a talisman that can destroy or empower. The Cherrywood Box is about the power of secrets to unite a family that is spread across the world. It is an expansive novel, outward-looking. I’m thinking of Barbara Kingsolver and Amy Tan when I say this because they write big books of accessible literary fiction that often span continents, and through riveting plots, their characters’ experiences are brought home to us.

The Cherrywood Box is built around the lives of three women. For two of these, the drama happens simultaneously, the third woman creeps up on the reader and emerges from the past. Set in contemporary Paraguay, England and 1940s South Africa, the stories are told by Dolly, Ava and Edith, but a fourth woman, Dolly’s dead daughter, Maddy, links their stories along with her precious cherrywood music box.

Dolly’s nightclub is a shrine to her great love and obsession, Kurt Weill, but the life of the 84-year-old nightclub singer is shattered when a drugs-runner breaks into her home near Asuncion, installs himself on her pineapple plantation and threatens to blackmail her. He knows too much. Beneath the surface, Dolly is hiding secrets that can never be revealed. Dolly, is torn between revealing the truth about her traitorous past and maintaining her complex façade. Simultaneously her grand-daughter, Ava, is lured to Highcliffe Castle by stonemason, Dermot, on a terrifying photographic assignment. When Dermot reveals secrets about her mother, Ava debates whether to attempt to leave or to discover more about this mysterious, sinister man who knows so much about her past. In 1940s South Africa, Edith searches for a way to escape her abusive relationship with Henny, secretly longing to work alone in her attic on the exquisite boxes that are her passion. When she eventually escapes with her lover to pursue her dream, she finds it may be nothing but an illusion. Edith finds refuge in crafting the elaborate wooden boxes which eventually bring the three women together .

The Cherrywood Box is a story of love, art, obsession and secrets. The three stories are linked by the elusive character of Maddy, Dolly’s dead daughter, and her enigmatic cherrywood music box.


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About writing, trickery and a little music