Spiritual search and wanderlust fertile ground for Welsh author’s fiction

Desmond Barry’s new novel Cressida’s Bed sounds pretty juicy. Set in 1930s India, the story:

revolves around a fiery young Englishwoman, Christina Devenish, a birth control pioneer. Her own quest for spiritual fulfilment takes her from experimenting with mind-altering drugs to the arcane beliefs of theosophy as practiced by the 19th century Russian psychic, Madame Blavatsky.

But Christina does not find her true spiritual home until she falls under the spell of the Shabdrung, the head of the Buddhist faith in Bhutan on the border with India and Tibet. She falls in love with a young Welshman, Owen Davies who, despite his background as the son of a Methodist minister in the Valleys, is a loyal member of the British police in India.

And the details of Barry’s own life sound just as fascinating as his fiction. His 49 years includes stints as an aid worker in Tibet, a laborer in California during the 1989 earthquake, a manager of a meditation centre in Tuscany, a pilgrim in India and a grad student in creative writing at Columbia which led to a successful career as a novelist. He is now back in his birthplace of Gurnos, Wales where he teaches writing and hopes to help regenerate the community which has been beaten down by economic deprivation.