Book Description: After years of chaos and rioting, powerful businessmen create a society to maximise profit called New Henley.

A cardiac surgeon and rising son of New Henley’s elite, Alistair Van Doren desperately wants to escape the shadow of his politician father. When he develops a prescient heart device, he is forced to see it used for darker means—as a natural selector. He becomes aware of the true cost of his success and the nefarious men who rule New Henley, when he meets Mr. Zhao—a patient who teaches him the difference between love and reason.

A wild spirit trapped by a world that rewards blood, Ana Arendt is an innocent Eve locked in a false paradise. Forced to serve New Henley’s powerful visitors as a Domatron, she tries desperately to repress her past—but it haunts her at night in veiled dreams. Although she is promised the reward of a happy family life, Ana yearns for the freedom to choose her own destiny. When she meets Alistair, he discovers a past intertwined with powerful enemies.

Separated by class and position, Alistair is forced to reconcile his deepest beliefs with the beauty he sees in Ana—Ana must confront her ghosts and challenge the prescribed order. New Henley is a story about the mind and the heart, the science of the soul and two lovers trapped by time and circumstance.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Christina Mary Cannes studied archaeology hoping to unearth ancient sites in Athens and Rome. Instead, she trekked into outback Australia crafting bespoke editorial for travel magazines. She currently lives in Queensland, Australia. New Henley is her first novel.

The Story Behind the Story

I stared writing New Henley by accident—Ana’s first dream about her father and the dead pig, fell out of my head while I was working at an international law firm in Richmond, Virginia back in 2006. I wrote it down, not entirely sure what it was or what to do with it.

I moved to Australia in 2007, and while pregnant with my first son, the novel and the story began to develop. Like pregnancy, stories gestate—and until I was ready to put it down on paper, I held it inside watching it grow in shape and scope in my mind.

New Henley is ultimately a story about love. Told through two main characters, Alistair and Ana, New Henley is also a story about power and control and living in a society where people do not have any over their own lives. Alistair, a heart surgeon and member of the elite, does not know his own heart. Ana, a servant for visiting business executives, is trapped and cannot escape from her role inside the Hamlet. When these two characters meet, the falsities and the fragile structure of New Henley’s web of lies falls away. Alistair and Ana learn to listen to their hearts and with this newfound courage, make changes to better their lives.

I wrote New Henley as a response to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. I found Rand’s theory on individualism refreshing as I too had been tricked into living a life influenced too heavily by family and society and needed to break free and establish my own self. After reading Atlas; however, and watching the Bush Administration inflict pain and suffering on the United States, I took objectivism to its logical end—fascism—a society ruled by corporate greed where the government is not at all separate from business. I used Orwell’s 1984 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale as inspiration for the protagonists.

I sat down to write New Henley in 2008—almost ten years ago—and after watching the US electoral college (not the citizens of the United States) appoint Trump as president, I believe my story is reality—what we are taught in school and showed in the media is an illusion. The Bush Administration used fear and terrorism to rule the US—anger and fear overtook people and as a result, Trump’s campaign, and it’s familiar themes of anger, fear, and hatred, got him the prime slot.

New Henley is a love story, but also a warning. I ask readers to look at their own lives and question how they live—are you choosing your head over your heart—logic over empathy and compassion? A life well lived combines both logic and empathy, never favouring one above the other. Like Anubis and the scale used to weight the heart in the afterlife, we must achieve balance. What do we do when we find ourselves trapped? Read my story and find out!

What I see as the real tragedy in life, is not allowing the heart to weigh in on every decision. Objectivism is cold and sterile—so is a society based on profit margins. If we wish to succeed at this experiment known as humanity, we must always choose love over fear and allow empathy and compassion to influence every decision.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with this novel and all the editors who cleaned up copy and tried to teach me how to write property. To my beloved step-father Richard Guilford, to whom the novel is dedicated, I thank you so much for all your love—if it weren’t for you, I don’t know if I’d be alive right now. To all who read this story, my goal is only to expand consciousness. If I am successful at this, then my purpose in this lifetime is fulfilled.

new henley novel christina cannes

New Henley is available from the following retailers: