When Roberta 'Bertie' Lightfoot is struck down with polio, her world collapses. But Mama doesn't tolerate self-pity, and Bertie is nobody if not her mother's daughter - until she sets her heart on becoming an artist.
Through drawing, the gifted and perceptive Bertie gives form and voice to the reality of the people and the world around her. While her father is happy enough to indulge Bertie's driving passion, her mother will not let art get in the way of the future she wishes for her only daughter.
In 1955 the family moves to post-colonial Port Moresby, a sometimes violent frontier town, where Bertie, determined to be the master of her own life canvas, rebels against her mother's strict control. In this tropical landscape, Bertie thrives amid the lush pallette of colours and abundance, secretly learning the techniques of drawing and painting under the tutelage of her mother's arch rival.
But Roberta is not the only one deceiving her family. As secrets come to light, the domestic varnish starts to crack, and jealousy and passion threaten to forever mar the relationship between mother and daughter.
Tender and witty, The Beloved is a moving debut novel which paints a vivid portrait of both the beauty and the burden of unconditional love.