By Cassandra GoldsYoung adultPenguin

The Three Loves of Persimmon

This sublime twisted fairy tale is marvellously inventive and gorgeously written, its surface-sweet prose leavened by wry humour. Set in Edwardian London, its characters include a florist, a mouse, a talking cabbage and a psychic dead aunt who sends messages and encouragement from beyond the grave.

Persimmon lives a solitary life, passionate about the florist shop she owns and runs in the underground railway station, devoted to her only companion, Rose – a talking cabbage. She dreams of love, but finds it elusive, even as intriguing young men come and go from the shop. Below the shop, in the dark tunnels of the railway, a mouse named Epiphany yearns to know what lies beyond her home. Inevitably, the two will meet and their lives will be changed.

Cassandra Golds, an ardent fan of Hans Christian Anderson and CS Lewis, wears her influences on her sleeve, but gives both fairy tales and fantasy her own deliciously original – and decidedly quirky – slant.

Portrait of Cassandra Golds

Cassandra Golds

Cassandra Golds was born in Sydney and grew up reading Hans Christian Andersen, C.S. Lewis and Nicholas Stuart Gray over and over again. Her first book, Michael and the Secret War, was accepted for publication when she was 19 years old. In collaboration with the artist Stephen Axelsen, she went on to write a string of flamboyantly themed graphic novels, all of which were published as monthly serials in New South Wales School Magazine. Her other novels include Clair-de-Lune, The Mostly True Story of Matthew and Tim and The Museum of Mary Child.

Judges’ report

Persimmon Polodori runs a railway station florist shop, and dreams of great love. Six gloomy levels below lives a mouse, Epiphany, who dreams of another world, a place of flowers, music and light. The Three Loves of Persimmon is a fable about art, love and courage, in which Persimmon’s three loves - an actor, an artist and a writer - reveal their true nature. The Three Loves of Persimmon is a modern fairy tale: imagine Amelie retold by Oscar Wilde, mixing plenty of wisdom with the apparent whimsy. Cassandra Golds hits every note in this funny, playful and perfectly-executed novel.

Extract

Cassandra Golds sets her story in a vast underground railway station. Likened to the beating heart of the great city, the world of the station pulses with life and movement. Trains chuff and smoke, endlessly journeying.

Against this backdrop, the reader’s attention is directed to the two main characters - Persimmon, a young woman who runs a florist shop at the top level of the station, and Epiphany, a mouse who dwells in the deepest and busiest level of the station, platform one.

Persimmon and Epiphany share in common a great yearning, at the heart of which is a desire to be true to themselves. Their separate journeys to achieve this requires of both of them a passionate resolve. Persimmon is urged by her deceased Aunt Lily to embark on a quest for love, while Epiphany dreams of finding the Place of Flowers, where a mouse can think - a place unlike platform one.

Cassandra Golds creates a fantastical world where the poetry of flowers speak to the heart, where an ornamental talking cabbage called Rose is a true friend, and where pink scented envelopes arrive from beyond the grave. The Three Loves of Persimmon is elegantly constructed and loaded with fairytale imagery, romance and allusion.

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