Spring Clean for the Peach Queen (Sasha Wasley, Pantera)
Sasha Wasley’s latest novel marries small-town fiction and Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in a gentle exploration of what really matters. After her boyfriend dies of an overdose at a party and scandalous photos are splashed across magazine covers throughout the country, Lottie returns to her hometown of Bonnievale. Her mother is ashamed of Lottie’s departure from her own beliefs, as well as the media coverage, so Lottie finds a home and eventual solace as the companion of the elderly mother of an old high-school classmate. The idea of tidying up and figuring out what is important in life moves the narrative forward, especially as Lottie’s ongoing and deliberate attempt at personal growth begins to affect those around her. Nuance is added through small-town politics, intergenerational conflicts about the role and definition of feminism, and secondary characters who either aid or inhibit Lottie as she embarks on her quest for self-discovery. The story is further matured by the ending, when Lottie must face the limitations of her effort at personal growth with the realisation that life is too complicated for a one-method-fits-all approach. Spring Clean for the Peach Queen is a soft, slow-paced read that feels like self-care in 2021, though may not appeal to those seeking a challenge. Readers who have enjoyed novels by Josephine Moon or Rachael Johns will find a similar reading experience here.
Kate Cuthbert is program manager at Writers Victoria.