Sister Olga Mastrovic and Sister Pualele Sina Auva'a initially appear to have little in common beyond their membership of the same religious order. Scratching below the surface however, reveals many shared experiences even though Olga migrated to New Zealand, decades earlier than Pualele's arrival from Samoa for an illegal family adoption. Recognising their similarities, Olga records her story, and it is following her death that her cathartic journal (narrating her family's experiences fleeing Dalmatia at the end of World War Two), helps Pualele examine own life.
Sensitively written, this multi-layered story bears witness to the experiences of migrants in their journey towards a new home in New Zealand, a nation of migrants.
"A good read. A view of life through the eyes of an immigrant."
"Very readable – a very well-written page turner. It's multi-layered and very interesting."
"I found this to be a very satisfying read."
"The bond between the two women is sensitively depicted and the background to their stories has been well researched."
"I think most women would enjoy this book with its focus on female characters and cultural differences."
A complicated book - we would suggest a timeline and character list to help sort out who is who. Many issues raised about families and 'settling-in'.
Mixed feedback, mostly enjoying but not loving the book which was confusing at times with plenty left to the imagination. Good discussion generated especially around historical events, e.g. refugees fleeing German occupied Yugoslavia; and the treatment of 'overstayers' in NZ in the 70's. An informative book which often read like non-fiction.
Mixed feedback. Some loved it and others thought it was a bit boring, but it generated great discussion over adoption and nature vs nurture. Many questions were left unanswered.
A novel with very confusing content. Most members were accepting of the two stories written side by side, and appreciated being kept on track on with names heading the chapters. Confusion arose during discussion dealing with name changes, family relationships, broken friendships together with possible family connections between Olga and Pualele. Following Olga's early history of the Dalmatian refugees, their escape routes and the Egyptian camps was of interest to all. No fault with the writing, we await Glamuzina's next book.
Quite a good read. A few 'holes' in the story. What happened in Croatia to force the family to leave How did Olga's baby get back to Samoa, if she didn't say who the father was Interesting from a migrant's point of view.
It was good to read about the issues of the 1970s - we had all forgotten about the 'overstayers' and how they were treated. A sad story but well-written.
A wide range of opinions. The discussion centred around the themes of motherhood, immigration, power of the family and status. One member felt that the "Croatian story' could have been a novel on its own. The switching from one character to the other confused, rather than enhanced, the depth of the novel from some members' point of view. It dealt with issues that are not found in books we have read in the past.
We found lots to discuss in this book. Enjoyed the historical aspects, and thought the portrayal of Samoan life in NZ was accurate. Some aspects of the plot were a bit unlikely, but it made for a good discussion.
We really loved the book and the twist at the end - found it easy to read and it gave us a lot to think about. We enjoyed the way Ann writes and the research she had done on the war in Europe. We enjoyed the book as it was different, and we were able to remember the times written about. One reader who liked, but did not love the book, thought there were not many light moments.