Suitcase of Dreams

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

After thoroughly enjoying The Girl From Munich I was really excited to read the next installment in Lotte and Erich's journey. I have to say that though enjoyable it didn't quite engage me as much as the first book. I found it interesting and at times it made me angry the way migrants were treated by the Australian people and the struggles the went through. I wonder how much has really changed for people coming into our countries bringing their differences with them. I found the union angle interesting and am glad they fought for equality. They both struggled so much to make a better life, at times it was heartbreaking, but I did enjoy my journey with them. 3.5⭐⭐⭐

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for a copy in return for an honest review.
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‘I didn’t even know why we were here. It wasn’t like we were wanted when there’d been nothing but disregard, disrespect and lies since our arrival.’

Tania Blanchard wrote a tremendous debut, ‘The Girl from Munich’ (HERE) and therefore I was most excited to read her follow up story of Lotte and Erich. Once again, this proved easy to read with that familiar  mix of fiction and nonfiction, that this time, will have you disembarking on Australian shores during the years of post war migration. 

After surviving the horrors of Nazi Germany, Lotte and her family arrive in Australia in 1956 full of hope to make a fresh start. After all, Australia had been presented as the ‘land of opportunity’ and they had been promised so much. This was their opportunity to give their children the future they had only ever dreamed of. 

‘Look at us! We’re no better off. All the broken promises, the broken dreams.’

Once more Blanchard bases her tale on the true story of her grandparents as we follow them from their initial start at the Bonegilla migrant camp up until the time they finally are in a position to get their own house and land, ‘the all Australian dream’. It is no easy journey and Tania will shine the light on the many hardships migrants had to face at this time - everything from the language barrier to being taken advantage of in the workplace. 

I loved spending time with Lotte and Erich once more, their love is so special and their life was not easy. There is a wonderful cast of characters and settings, especially their love of the Australian bush. I did not find this book to be as strong as the first. Admittedly it was difficult as the time frame was that much larger, around twenty years. This had an impact towards the end when there were jumps in time that interrupted the flow of events. I also found that some events e.g. unionism, Vietnam war etc, we were given rather large information dumps that I could have done without and certain plot twists that, although served a purpose, did not sit comfortably with me.

Overall, however, I really enjoyed this book and I’m grateful that Tania gave us the second part to Lotte and Erich’s story, no matter  how heartbreaking it might prove to be. This is a window into an important episode of Australian history - the social, political and cultural ethos, that was Australia at that time. 

‘All my hopes and dreams were dashed but what I said was true. What mattered was having those we loved close to us. That much I had learnt.’





This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.
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Arriving at Bonegilla, the migrant camp in rural Victoria near the NSW border, after the long sea voyage from Germany on the Skaubryn, Lotte Drescher and her husband Erich, plus daughters Greta and Johanna, were excited but nervous about their future in Australia. Their life was beginning anew; it was 1956 and they were filled with hope.

But life wasn’t easy – Erich struggled to find a job after their arrival in Sydney. His qualifications as an engineer weren’t recognized in Australia and he had to re-study if he wanted to follow that course. The family’s lack of funds made that option unavailable, at least for the time being. But eventually, after much struggle, trauma and heartache, Erich was working from home as a wood carver – following in his father’s footsteps. And Lotte was fulfilling her heart’s desire of being a photographer. They were happy.

Until subtle – and not so subtle – innuendoes began to corrupt their lives. Erich’s position in the trade union movement and his determination to help other migrants was beginning to endanger his family. And with the Vietnam War about to draw Australia in, Erich and Lotte’s challenges were great. What would be the outcome in a future that was uncertain?

Book #2 in The Girl From Munich series by Aussie author Tania Blanchard was exceptional in my opinion. I loved the first, The Girl From Munich and Suitcase of Dreams didn’t disappoint. Based on the true story of the author’s grandparents, their arrival from Germany in 1956 to Bonegilla, and their stay in the Villawood hostel in Sydney, before their own living quarters and a job were found, I was fascinated but saddened at the hardships the family suffered. An excellent rendition of fact to fiction, I highly recommend Ms Blanchard’s follow up, Suitcase of Dreams but advise reading them in order of publication.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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