Suitcase of dreams by Tania Blanchard
Simon & Schuster, 2018. ISBN 9781925596168.
(Age: Adolescents - Adults) Themes: Immigration. Germans in Australia. Sydney. In 1956 a young couple arrive in Australia by ship, ready to begin a new life together, far away from their own country, Germany, that has been suffering the woes of the post-war period, the deprivation, loss of hope and lack of opportunity. This is Erich's second marriage and he is determined to make his new wife, Lotte, happy, by moving to a new country to begin their lives together in the 'new' world. The story reflects the European experience of the post-war period, the idea of fleeing one's country to begin a new life and to make a fresh start in a safe place.
This intriguing story tells us a narrative of a young family with an earnest desire to make a new life in a country far away from their own tired, devastated homeland. We are made aware of the deepest desires and hopes of the couple, and we gain a sense of being so caught up in their story that we are embraced by their little world. Uplifting and honest, this narrative places us firmly in the time and place of Australia in the 1950s as it recovers from the war years, coping with the needs of the returned soldiers, many of whom are psychologically damaged, and welcoming the refugees from the 'old world'. Arriving full of hope, but fearful of acceptance, having to learn a new language, and to settle without their own wider families, the new arrivals are determined to put aside the tragedy, the terrible memories and the prejudices of the old world, wishing to rebuild their lives.
There are many setbacks, and nothing is easy for this young couple, but their love and devotion to one another, and their children, enables them to cope. They experience some terrible things and go through hard times, but eventually it all seems to be coming together. Life begins to look good, and their positive outlook seems to support them and their family. When tragedy strikes, however, they are devastated, barely able to cope and terrified of everything collapsing around them. They survive, but things change and they find that they have to adjust, and they find the strength to do so.
In this story the characters are vividly depicted, the story is fresh and vibrant, the narrative drawing us into the lives of the characters, their hopes, dreams, achievements and their tragedies. Suitable for adults and adolescents, this fine book embraces the historical events of the Second World War and its aftermath, and celebrates Australia's welcoming of the new citizens with friendliness and support, defining what it is to be Australian then and now. It is most suitable for young adults and adults, particularly recreating the world of that time for older readers. It is the sequel to The girl from Munich.