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The Last of the Bonegilla Girls

Narrated by: Jennifer Vuletic
Length: 11 hrs and 37 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (164 ratings)

Non-member price: $31.78

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Publisher's Summary

A post-Second World War story of strong female ties and family, secrets and lies, set in the multicultural Australia of the '50s. 

Can the Bonegilla girls defeat their past? Or will it come to claim them?

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 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....

©2018 Harlequin Enterprises(Australia) pty Ltd (P)2018 Harlequin Enterprises(Australia) pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A poignant and compelling read, this is a delightful novel that celebrates all that is good in our multicultural country. It's a beautiful story about female friendship and how it can transcend cultural and language barriers." (Books + Publishing)

"A heartwarming novel...." (The Weekly Times)

"A story of strong female ties and family." (Better Reading)

What listeners say about The Last of the Bonegilla Girls

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Dramatic historical fiction

Bonegilla was a post WW2 Migrant camp in Victoria and the first stop for Europeans when they arrived in Australia. They stayed in the camp whilst authorities assisted them to find jobs and housing somewhere in the country. Three young girls - Vasiliki from Greece, Elizabeta, a Hungarian whose family had been forced to live in Germany, and Iliana, from Italy, become friends with a young Australian girl who helps them with their English, Francis, whilst their families are based at the camp. The book follows the lives of the four girls from then.

Obviously there is a lot of drama for each girl throughout. Usually with this style of book, I end up disliking one of the characters and their plot but this time I really enjoyed each girl’s storyline. I don’t really even think I had a favourite or least liked.

I will admit though, given that Purman is traditionally a romance book writer, I found the romantic plotlines a little underdone. I think my biggest problem was that a lot of the details of the romances happened ‘off screen’. Quite often I was reading about some potential romantic subplot of one of the girls and then, the next chapter would have everything resolved and Purman had moved on to a new subplot.

When reading historical novels, it’s always interesting to note how society’s attitudes towards women, marriage, children, and, obviously, migrants has changed so much. Of course it’s always sad to note too how some aspects and attitudes have not changed at all.

My mother, who is in her 80s, is always asking me to recommend her books and I think this is one I could as it seems suitable for all. There are no graphic sex scenes or whatnot.

The story spans several years and I must admit, I shed a tear or two at times.

I will probably try another Purman title.

4 out of 5

6 people found this helpful

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Amazing book

Loved it. Could not stop listening. Researched afterwards. Narrator is fantastic. Author writes in such a way you feel all the emotions of the characters

2 people found this helpful

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Loved! Read this!

I so enjoyed this book what a lively mixture of facts about new immigrants to Australia and fiction about a group of friends and their lives as they struggle through together. How I wish I had a group of friends like them! The narration was so fantastic, best I have ever heard. There were so many accents to do and Jennifer nailed them perfectly. I will be looking up more books by Victoria and anything read by Jennifer I will definitely consider!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyed the reminiscing!

Firstly the best narrator I have heard! Secondly enjoyed their journey quite realistic as both my parents went through the migrant camps. Entertaining, empathic and enjoyable reading. Sometimes wanted a bit more detail I.e. Francis and Massimo💕

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful

Just loved this insight into a part of Australian history. Brilliantly written through four cultures.
so many hidden parts of people's lives and the effect on generations to follow. Loved it! Well narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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Nice

It made me yearn for the days when refugees in Australia were treated humanely, and could come and go as they pleased at the Migrant Reception Centres, as they were called back then, before the razor wire arrived and unauthorised arrivals started to be locked up for years, for profit. The humane treatment of the Bonegilla girls was probably why good friendships formed and survived. Good narration.

1 person found this helpful

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Sparked many memories

I loved this story. It evoked memories of my own story in 1955. Beautifully narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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Absolutely loved it

The research for this book, was so thorough that was why the book great. I thoroughly enjoy all the different story lines and characters especially. Will listen to it again soon

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beautifully narrated.

because of this book I found out my grandparents stayed at Bonegilla in the 50's! great characters. enjoyed it.

1 person found this helpful

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Great read!

Thoroughly enjoyed this trip down memory !ane with some very special ladies! There are enough twists and turns to keep it interesting while being so realistic I did have to check whether it was a work of fiction or a true story. Do plan to buy a copy of the book for my mother who really did live through the era. Did give me further appreciation of our migrant history.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Carolyn Levine
  • 23-05-2018

great!

I love historical novels. I want quite sure about this book, but, I found I was so engrossed in this book, I listened at work, and had to put a sign on my desk that I had my earbuds in and people if they needed me, they needed to wave their arms wildly to get my attention.
Although I thought the story was a little predictable, I still enjoyed it immensely.