Beneath the money tree and nature is a haunted house: A novel and exegesis

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Donna Mazza


This thesis comprises of an arts-based creative work Beneath the Money Tree and an exegesis, Nature is a Haunted House.

Beneath the Money Tree is an Australian Gothic style novel that explores the downward spiral of Jack, who is haunted by his dead wife Maya. The couple and their three children live on a large property in Walpole, Western Australia. During a violent argument Jack murders Maya and buries her under a marijuana plant on the family property. The novel responds to the works of colonial authors such as Barbara Baynton and Mary Fortune and seeks to subvert the Australian Gothic tradition of silencing women. Like Fortune’s ghosts, Maya also lies uneasy in her grave. Her spirit seeks revenge on those who harmed her during life, and she murders them one by one. Guilt, combined with Maya’s haunting take their toll on Jack’s mental health and he slowly succumbs to her torment.

The exegesis, Nature is a Haunted House, explores the evolution of Australian Gothic literature from colonial times through to contemporary works and examines three novels written in the last ten years. Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things (2015), Emily O’Grady’s The Yellow House (2018) and Felicity McLean’s The Van Apfel Girls are Gone (2019) deal with secrets that haunt the protagonists and the effect they have on the present.

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