Empire Day- Diane Armstrong

 Sarah P’s pick

This book covers a year on a street in Bondi. It is 1948 and the street, as well as Australia, is being transformed by the arrival of refugees from Europe. It starts with bonfires and crackers to celebrate Empire Day. The Australian born families enjoy the communal atmosphere and fireworks while the sounds and smells trigger bad memories for the survivors of war.

 The locals feel threatened by the “reffos”. There is some sympathy for them but the Australians dislike the customs and food of the Europeans. The refugees struggle to deal with their horrific wartime experiences and adapt to life in a new country. There are misunderstandings on both sides.

 The novel portrays life at the time very well- not just the attitudes to refugees but also the six o’clock closing at pubs, polio, fear of Communism, beach inspectors, workers’ strikes and food rationing.

 I enjoyed this book and recommend it to those wishing to read about Sydney at that time.

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One Response to Empire Day- Diane Armstrong

  1. Jenny L says:

    Great review Sarah, sounds like a very interesting book. I will be putting it on my “to read list”.