The Proxy Bride

a stunningly crafted novel of family, secrets and facing adversity…

Imagine marrying someone you’ve never met…

When Sofie comes to stay with her grandmother in Stanthorpe, she knows little of her Nonna Gia’s past. In the heat of that 1984 summer, the two clash over Gia’s strict Italian ways and superstitions, her chilli-laden spaghetti and the evasive silence surrounding Sofie’s father, who died before she was born. Then Sofie learns Gia had an arranged marriage. From there, the past begins to reveal why no-one will talk of her father.

As Nonna Gia cooks, furtively adding a little more chilli each time, she also begins feeding Sofie her stories. How in 1939 she sailed from Italy to Australia on a ‘bride ship’, among many proxy brides, knowing little about the husbands they had married from afar, most arriving to find someone much different than described.

Then, as World War II takes over the nation, and in the face of the growing animosity towards Italians that sees their husbands interned, Gia and her friends are left alone. Impoverished. Desperate. To keep their farms going, their only hope is banding together,  along with Edie, a reclusive artist on the neighbouring farm and two Women’s Land Army workers. But the venture is made near-impossible by the hatred held by the local publican and an illicit love between Gia and an Australian, Keith.

The summer burns on and the truth that unfolds is nothing like what Sofie expected…

« Includes 12 traditional recipes.

Please click to download.

Available in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

Check for prices and availability…

Book club questions

Praise for The Proxy Bride…

The Proxy Bride joins the Top 10 Historical Fiction bestseller list   –   The Weekend Australian newspaper, Nov, 2022.           See more…

“Boccabella writes with realism, passion and authenticity about a part of history little known to most, but which is an integral part of the great history of Italian migration to Australia.”

Maria Clara Vetruccio, Il Globo Italian-Australian newspaper    

“A deeply engrossing and authentic story, with such passionate realism you must keep reading.”

Jackie French AM, Award-winning author and historian

Zoë Boccabella in a very entertaining style reveals yet another slice of history that may have by-passed many. An engrossing, very cunningly written storyline wrapped in Australian history and one that many who have Italian grandparents will relate to.”

Trish Palmer, Blue Wolf Reviews
Read full review

“An authentic and heartfelt read that examines the connections we make when faced with hardship and disaster… a moving novel.”

Better Reading
Read full review

“Wartime, pasta and Dean Martin. The Proxy Bride shines a light into a little-known or understood corner of the migrant story in Australia, told through complex characters. A compelling and sympathetic story putting historical events into a relatable context.”

Denise Newton, Books and Reading
Read full review

Zoë has crafted a beautiful coming of age story… the narrative switches between the past and present, good times and bad, with an underlying generosity of spirit.”

Australian Country magazine
Read full review


 Read article…