This one is on my to-read list:
A post-Second World War story of strong female ties and family, secrets and lies, set in the multicultural Australia of the fifties. Can the Bonegilla girls defeat their past? Or will it come to claim them?
1954: When sixteen–year–old Hungarian Elizabeta arrives in Australia with her family, she is hoping to escape the hopelessness of life as a refugee in post–war Germany. Her first stop is the Bonegilla Migrant Camp on the banks of the Murray in rural Victoria, a temporary home for thousands of new arrivals, all looking for work and a better life. There, Elizabeta becomes firm friends with the feisty Greek Vasiliki; quiet Italian Iliana; and the adventurous Frances, the daughter of the camp’s director.
In this vibrant and growing country, the Bonegilla girls rush together towards a life that seems full of promise, even as they cope with the legacy of war, the oppressive nature of family tradition and ever–present sorrow. So when a ghost from the past reaches out for Elizabeta and threatens to pull her back into the shadows, there is nothing that her friends wouldn’t do to keep her safe.
But secrets have a way of making themselves known and lies have a way of changing everything they touch…
The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman
Bonegilla was Australia’s most famous camp for refugees and migrants in the aftermath of the Second World War. My family – refugees from the Soviet Union after years of forced labour in Germany (followed by four years in displacement camps while Stalin was busy having all ethnic Ukrainians in their region executed or sent to Siberia) – passed through the camp.
I am hoping – but not expecting – that the book will mention the decades of xenophobia and outright racism southern and eastern European arrivals faced at the hands of Anglo-Australians.
We need more books like this one, and *I* need to read more books like this one. Pretty much my whole reading experience is framed by the American publishing industry these days, and US authors (other than in the Regency romance subgenre) tend to ignore the rest of the world when dealing with the past.