Daphne Tuttle grew up on a dairy farm amongst the sun baked hills and river valleys of South Africa’s Eastern Cape. She was sent to boarding school in the historic ‘1820 Settler’ city of Grahamstown where, age 12, she wrote and directed a play and decided to be a writer.
At 19, Daphne travelled on the back of a motorbike through Southern Africa, seeking fodder for her writing. At 21, she sailed to Europe, worked for a library in London and then went to Bergen, Norway to write. When money ran out, she found a job washing dishes on the cruise ship Meteor and sailed on fjord and midnight sun cruises, heading further north to Spitsbergen then to the Baltic Sea where in communist Leningrad the crew were fêted while the passengers were ignored. She travelled the Mediterranean and on to the Caribbean, writing and illustrating everything she saw and experienced.
In Durban everything she owned was stolen, including her precious diaries, and a door seemed to close on her writing. Here she met her Australian husband, Alan, getting married in Grahamstown before sailing for Sydney where she worked at Manly Library and then spent two years in Rabaul, New Guinea.
The family returned to Australia some twenty years after Daphne and her new husband had first moved there. This time, they settled on Bribie Island, Queensland, and began running a travel agency amongst the picturesque Glasshouse Mountains. Daphne now committed herself to a path she had never given up on – writing. Travel articles, newsletters, short stories – some featured on local radio – and two novels, Under Pressure and Shadow Patterns, were the creative explorations of her life’s experiences and greatest passions: family, spirituality, voyages of discovery, and the personal and cultural complexities of a troubled land.
It was an immense satisfaction for her to have completed and published Shadow Patterns shortly before she passed away in 2012.
I read it until the early hours and the whole of the next day until I finished it. There is much of the human condition in this novel – betrayal, love, a search for meaning, and love of country. I found the book intriguing, honest, exciting, an enthralling insight into things I did not know.
– Elizabeth Warner-Holmes, author and former President of the Queensland Society of Women Writers
To pick up Shadow Patterns and settle down for a good read is like gripping a live electric wire and I felt deprived when I read the last word.
– Ann Jones, award-winning Australian author
To Daphne's website
from Chapter 1
Her eyes halted on a face in a photograph. About to turn the newspaper page, her hand stopped and stayed poised in midair. The face reminded her of… It couldn’t be… Penelope Knight glanced at the print underneath and felt the skin on her arms prickle as she looked again at a face that at one time had been almost as familiar to her as her own.
The words under the picture read, “Mrs Nancy Bester, head of the Melbourne branch of the controversial sect, The People of Light, after an unpleasant ordeal. Earlier today the sect place of worship, known as a Light House, received an anonymous telephone call threatening death in an hour. Police summoned to the scene think it was a prank call as they found nothing.” Above the photograph were the words ‘Bomb Scare’.
Penelope stared at the picture. Nancy would, like her, be well into her forties by now, but she was still unquestionably Nancy. She let herself absorb the ‘Mrs’ and the ‘Bester’. So, she had married Patrick. At the time, deep down she knew it would happen but she had not wanted to have it confirmed.
When Mark Findlay, her cousin Linda’s husband, brought her the newspaper saying, “It’s an old one from the Australian consulate,” she’d been sitting in the late afternoon sunshine in the courtyard of their Cape Town home.
Her hands trembled as the years rolled back and doors closed more than a quarter of a century ago threatened to open. With a quick gesture, she closed the newspaper, snapping the pages together and rose.
She hurried through the house and out of the front door. Mark and Linda were blurry outlines as she passed and she was oblivious to the looks of concern on their faces. She sped down the street, hastening away from she knew not what.
Her thoughts were still in turmoil when she returned an hour later. She had no idea where she had been – up one street and down another. Linda, closer to her than any sister, was waiting anxiously and with an effort, Penelope tried to pull herself together. There was a buzzing in her head and she had to concentrate to hear what her cousin was saying.
“Are you all right, Penn?”
“Yes.” Penelope started towards the courtyard. She wanted to see the paper again. She walked stiffly, cautiously, like a cat stalking something unknown. The courtyard was gloomy now, the sun behind Lion’s Head Mountain.
The garden table was bare, the newspaper gone.
She turned to Linda behind her. “Where’s the paper I was looking at?”
“It’s in the kitchen. I thought you’d finished with it.”
“There’s a photograph. I’d like to see it again.”
Linda was looking at her strangely. “I’ll get it.”
She was back with the paper a moment later. “It’s too dark to see out here. Come into the dining room.”
Penelope spread it open on the table and flipped through the pages until she found the photograph. Her gaze fastened on it, she said, “Does Mark still want the paper? Would he mind if I kept this from it?”
“Of course he wouldn’t. I’ll get you some scissors.” Linda rummaged in a dresser drawer and handed a pair to her.
As she cut, Penelope tried not to let her cousin see how much her hands were shaking.
Looking at the figure in the picture, Linda said softly, “I know that face… Penn, why is the photo upsetting you?”
Penelope was still for a moment. Then she looked up, “Nancy and I were friends at school. I didn’t know she’d gone to Australia and joined a cult.”
She saw that Linda was reading the few lines under the picture. She couldn’t stop her without being rude.
“Nancy?” Linda frowned, searching her memory. “She was a ballerina, wasn’t she? And used to go to the farm with you?”
Penelope nodded. Linda’s words hammered at the locked doors in her mind, doors already rattling from the impact of seeing Nancy’s picture.
“Have you seen her since school?”
“Once,” Penelope answered reluctantly, “about eighteen months after we left. Not since then.”
“And yet you recognised her from that photo? She couldn’t have changed much. You knew her married name?”
“She wasn’t married then.” In a voice so low Linda had to strain to catch her words, she went on, “I knew Patrick Bester before she did.” As she spoke she clumsily finished cutting out the picture and turned to go to her room, leaving Linda staring after her, shocked.
Although her cousin had never said anything, Linda was aware of the tensions in her marriage. But close as they were, she had never mentioned this Patrick who obviously was important to her. Her husband, Tom, died suddenly six months ago and Penelope had been with the Findlays ever since. Much too long, Linda worried, she should be starting to get her life back together by now.
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