Australian Book Review

Pagan, Three Sydney Novels

On the simplest level Pagan fictionally re-creates the life of Rosaleen Norton, the ‘Witch of the Cross’, who attracted the attention of the media during the 1950s… the narrative focuses on a series of events related to Norton’s involvement with Sir Eugene Goossens, one time conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, events which rocked Australian cultural circles and resulted in his arrest … The scandal and conjecture surrounding [this] arrest provides much of the interest for the novel…. But Pagan works on a number of different levels as well. It’s concerned with exposing the parochial and puritanical nature of Australian society and the evil associated not so much with Evvi’s witchcraft but with the narrow-mindedness of the Australian public and the vindictiveness directed towards anything different or remotely threatening: reffos, European cafes, ‘poofters’ in white socks, artists, musicians and witches. … Pagan is also about the creative instinct and the fine balance between the intellect and the imagination, the conflict between the desire to surrender completely to natural harmonies and the power of the intellect to discipline the mind. Music is referred to in similar terms as Evvi’s mystical trances. … It works well as a fictional recreation of a fascinating life and…challenges many of our preconceptions about ourselves.

-Australian Book Review