cover image Spotted Lily

Spotted Lily

Anna Tambour, . . Prime, $29.95 (276pp) ISBN 978-0-8095-4483-7

This shocker from Australian author Tambour (Monterra's Deliciosa & Other Tales & ) about a 20ish down under Faustess who sells her soul to the devil (aka Brett Hartshorn) for lasting literary fame and fortune may well strike some like a bracing tonic and others like something a lot less palatable. Having fled her Wooronga bush station home, Angela Pendergast takes her B.A. and M.A. in English at Sydney University and predictably goes walkabout, works at a bank and for five years pours out her dreams of authorship in journals until Brett appears during what he calls "pledge week." Her ensuing adventures with her behorned and betailed Byronic companion take them to Prague, Bali, New York and finally back to Wooronga. Tambour's racy, florid style achieves some witty one-liners, like Hartshorn's breakfast of heart tartare au jus Masai, but Angela's devil-sent humiliations too often verge on the off-puttingly scatological. Angela's loosely connected "adventures" also feel contrived until she returns to the bush she realizes too late she loves, whimpering over the death of her dreams. (July)