Eleven year old Novi just wants to blend in — not easy when you’re named after a silkworm and have the most eccentric family in town. A descendent of the first Italian silk growers in northern New South Wales, he is an obsessive artist with a habit of drawing the stories of the people around him, and a secret conviction that the river murdered his grandfather.


Young teacher Dom Best is new in town and must overcome his lack of confidence to support Novi’s talent. Together with Camille, the enigmatic school librarian, Dom encourages the boy to release his inhibitions and unravel his unusual family history through his art — though little can he imagine the consequences this will bring.

Watercolours is a poignant debut novel with a mystery at its heart, an unexpected love story and a surprising twist. Most of all, it celebrates the clarity and colour a child’s-eye view brings to the adult world.

Indie Book Awards 2012

Watercolours has been shortlisted for Debut Book of the Year at the 2012 Indie Book Awards.

Praise for Watercolours

‘A stunner. It’s note-perfect and the control of the shifting points of view is incredibly skillful. The descriptions of Novi’s painting and his way of seeing the world are gut-wrenching. It’s a really fine novel’


Bookseller & Publisher

Four and a half stars out of five  4½ STARS OUT OF 5

When Dom moves to the rural backwater of Morus, on the Lewis River, as the town’s new primary school teacher, he is unsure of his new home. When he notices that one of his pupils, Novi Lepido, is a talented artist, he feels out of his depth. Dom’s efforts to foster the boy’s talent uncover the Lepido family’s links to the local history and the landscape, stirring up hidden wells of grief and ancient history. This is Adrienne Ferreira’s first novel, and an excitingly good book. The way in which Ferreira translates her characters onto the page is disarming in its simplicity and immensely enjoyable to read. Watercolours is a collection of well-captured moments, presented in a multitude of first-person narratives. It is a refreshingly good Australian story that will appeal to readers who enjoy reading about love and the triumph of good intentions. The subject matter will suit both adult and young adult readers, and will ensure it is appreciated far and wide.

Rebecca Butterworth is a writer and ex-bookseller living in Melbourne

Notes on the inspiration for Watercolours


‘I was lazing around Sicily eating fresh figs when the idea for a novel struck me — about a boy who explores his small town and family history through drawings, and how the interpretations of this particularly sensitive and observant child seem spooky and then threatening to those in the community with something to hide.

Searching for a physical characteristic for the landscape of my novel, I discovered the little-known story of the silk growers of Australia. My research into this nineteenth-century national experiment, and the community of New Italy, south of Lismore, led to my invention of the town of Morus, the proposed silk capital of Australia that turns to boutique mulberry wine production, a community with tightly wound secrets set to unravel.’

For an autographed copy of Watercolours, visit Shearers Bookshop Online