A story of the morality of angels, and the demons working behind the mak of charisma. As a child in Tasmania, Petra Penfold-Knight was all too used to getting her own way, and to others doing her bidding. As a divinely beautiful adult in Melbourne in the 1960s, she gravitates towards the obvious place for someone born to be followed - the head of a religious cult. The cult, known as the Hill House Brethren, attracts its members through the magnetic charisma of Petra as well as by more sinister means, such as kidnapping patients from Mandala Psychiatric Clinic - site of the Deep Sleep Therapy so powerfully explored in The White Garden - and stealing children born to girls out of wedlock. One of these children is Celeste, daughter of the troubled Sylvie, who, once her child is lost to her, reverts to a second childhood of her own, cutting herself off from the world. The triangle of Petra, Sylvie and Celeste works as a powerful archetype for all children forced out of their natural families by people incapable of loving them. To Petra, strangely cold and emotionally aloof, her devoted followers are mere playthings, and as a child tires of its toys so too does she eventually tire of her little game with them. But what is there left to someone who has exercised total control over the lives of others and only an illusionary control over her own. When the fantasy dies, so too must Petra. Red Shoes is told in the voice of Petra's guardian angel, a wickedly witty and irreverent character called Boh, whose naughty take on life makes this a tale of biting humour as well as pathos. Taking its title from the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale about the girl who could not stop dancing, ot explores the darker side of female sexuality along with the bodily mutilation inherent in the romantic pursuit of ballet. Petra, as so many young girls are, was obsessed with ballet as a child and has all her followers in the Hill House Brethren wear red shoes, a symbol of surender to her her will. Red Shoes is linked to extensive footnotes - not academic style footnotes but a reading experience in their own right. (The only reason they're actually called footnotes is for te obvious play on the novel's title and theme.) They contain versions of the ancient narratives, myths and symbols around which Carmel Bird has constructed her extraordinary tale of the nature of reality and the realms that lie behind the seemingly ordinary. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Carmel Bird was born in Tasmania and lives in Melbourne. She is the author of four novels, several volumes of short fiction (the most recent of which was Automatic Teller), and the editor of two anthologies. She has been published to critical acclaim and has twice been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. Carmel Bird taught creative writing for many years and has written two inspirational guides for writers: Dear Writer and Not Now Jack - I'm Writing a Novel. SELLING POINTS *** The prequel to the acclaimed White Garden, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. *** a CD-ROM version of the novel is available free to those who want one. The CD allows the reader tomove between the main story and the footnotes at the click of a mouse, and also includes songs, music and artwork of images in the text. Three thousand copies of the CD have been pressed. *** Red Shoes is an utterly delightful and engaging look at fairytales - there is a strong market here to be tapped into. *** Carmel Bird is a terrific promoter of her work and has a wide network of contacts. *** While not an official guest of the Adelaide Festival, Carmel will be doing a reading from Red Shoes during Writer's Week.
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