Alexandra Joel has written the astonishing true story of her great-grandmother Rosetta, a woman from an upright middle class Melbourne Jewish family, who, in 1905, not only abandons her very young daughter but does so in the company of a half Chinese fortune teller called Zeno the Magnificent.
In London they revel in the company of top aristocrats and famous writers such as Conan Doyle. Ably assisted by Rosetta, Zeno make a fine living as a hypnotist, masseur and counsellor.
It’s a story hard to imagine but it is based on the impeccable research of the writer’s father Asher Joel, a prominent eastern suburbs politician, journalist and public relations. Although the author recreates conversations and internal monologues she does so in a thoroughly plausible manner fully supported within the trellis of the factual.