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Author to talk about new book

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May 31, 2018

Author Victoria Purman will talk about her book The Last of the Bonegilla Girls in Shepparton.

Author Victoria Purman hopes to uncover more stories of the Bonegilla Migrant Camp at her upcoming talk in Shepparton.

Ms Purman’s recent novel The Last of the Bonegilla Girls will be discussed at Collins Booksellers on Friday.

The book is set after World War II is over.

It is 1954 when 16-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 Bonegilla Migrant Camp, 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.

Ms Purman said she had already met several people on the book tour who had been through Bonegilla.

‘‘Just like my grandparents, my mother and my aunts and uncle did,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m sure that Shepparton will be no different, and I can’t wait to hear what memories the book has invoked in those who were there, and in those whose family went through the camp.

‘‘I can’t wait to hear if any Bonegilla people ended up in Shepparton, especially if they went to work picking fruit as their first jobs in Australia.’’

One in 20 Australians is a descendant of someone who was there in those years between 1949 and 1971, according to Ms Purman.

She said writing the book had been a tribute to her grandparents, Stefan and Maria Scheirich.

‘‘The stories of migration to Australia are so important to keep alive,’’ she said.

‘‘The great waves of post-war migration, and the bravery and courage of all those who left everything behind for a better life, are inspiring.’’

Victoria Purman will visit Collins Booksellers, Maude St, Shepparton, tomorrow, June 1, from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

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