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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 (91 ratings)

Non-member price: $18.38

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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)

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  • Overall
    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

1 person 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

1 person found this helpful

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A long tale but worth it in the end

The story took the reader across the changing face of Australia beautifully. It was naive and innocent to start with and some sections of the book about Bonegilla did feel a little aimless at the time but the story wove intriguingly across the second half. Well worth the read

1 person found this helpful

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Heartwarming tribute. Loved it

Loved this story and the reading. Great glimpse into the life at Bonegilla. Warmed my heart with the characters, their lives, struggles and triumphs.

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Ending surprise stop 🛑

Loved it but the ending seemed like really poor editing sixes unexplored or did I miss a chapter ?

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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.

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Sparked many memories

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

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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.

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  • Jo
  • 02-06-2019

Very slow to start!

I enjoyed this book but was very slow to get going & I nearly gave up with it, However glad I didn’t as the second half was worth preserving with!

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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.