When Sara Rose returns to live in her recently deceased grandmother’s Tasmanian cottage, her past and that of her mother and grandmother is ever-present. Sara’s grandmother, Nina Barsova, a Russian post-war immigrant, lovingly raised Sara in the cottage at the foot of Mt Wellington but without ever explaining why Sara’s own mother, Helena, abandoned her as a baby.
Sara, a geneticist, also longs to know the identity of her father, and Helena won’t tell her. Now, estranged not only from her mother, but also from her husband, Sara raises her daughter, Ellie, with a central wish to spare her the same feeling of abandonment that she experienced as a child.
When Sara meets an Afghani refugee separated from his beloved wife and family, she decides to try to repair relations with Helena – but when a lie told by her grandmother years before begins to unravel, a darker truth than she could ever imagine is revealed.
Matryoshka is a haunting and beautifully written story about the power of maternal love, and the danger of secrets passed down through generations.
About the Author
Katherine Johnson was born in Queensland and grew up alongside the fig tree-lined Brisbane River. At university she combined her two loves – writing and biology – graduating with both Arts and Science degrees, with honours in marine biology. Katherine then moved to Tasmania where, after more than a decade working as a science journalist for the CSIRO and other organisations, she began writing fiction: stories of love, loss and resilience set against wild landscapes. Her first novel, Pescador’s Wake (Fourth Estate) received rave reviews. Her second novel, The Better Son, is a Tasmanian Literary Award winner.