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ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK
---- Set between Prague and Melbourne in 1980, this achingly tender and deceptively simple novel tells of two children who never meet, but who are related through their formidable grandmothers. Ludek in Prague is curious, energetic, boastful and funny. His family don't have much, but then again, no-one in his neighbourhood does. There are often shortages but there's always something happening and his grandmother manages well enough. Mala Liska in Melbourne is quiet, observant, dutiful and imaginative. Her grandparents scrimp and save so they can occasionally go back to visit Prague; things are measured out and weighed up and carefully preserved but Mala always feels she has what she needs. As the novel switches back and forth, deep truths are revealed, about staying and going, sacrifices and resentments, family and the tales they tell to protect themselves - and always, of love. A truly beautiful, unforced and gentle novel - one of my favourites this year! Lindy Jones
Prague, 1938: Eva flies down the street from her sister. Suddenly a man steps out, a man wearing a hat. Eva runs into him, hits the pavement hard. His hat is in the gutter. His anger slaps Eva, but his hate will change everything, as war forces so many lives into small, brown suitcases.
Prague, 1980: No one sees Ludek. A young boy can slip right under the heavy blanket that covers this city - the fear cannot touch him. Ludek is free. And he sees everything. The world can do what it likes. The world can go to hell for all he cares because Babi is waiting for him in the warm flat. His whole world.
Melbourne, 1980: Mala Li ka's grandma holds her hand as they climb the stairs to their third floor flat. Inside, the smell of warm pipe tobacco and homemade cakes. Here, Mana and Bill have made a life for themselves and their granddaughter. A life imbued with the spirit of Prague and the loved ones left behind.
Favel Parrett's deep emotional insight and stellar literary talent shine through in this love letter to the strong women who bind families together, despite dislocation and distance. It is a tender and beautifully told story of memory, family and love. Because there is still love. No matter what.