Tag Archives: Italian history Stanthorpe

Next book out in September…

HarperCollins have released the blurb about the next book! The Proxy Bride will be out on 7th September and I can’t wait to share it with you. ❤️

“In 1939, Giacinta sets sail from Italy to Australia. Decades later, a granddaughter discovers the true story of her family… 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 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 she came 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 towards the women 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 …

The author of Mezza Italiana brings to life a unique point of migrant women’s untold experience, in a resonant novel of family, food and love.”

The Proxy Bride…

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Nancy, Soccorsa…

Vale to my great-aunt, Nancy, Nanna Francesca’s sister. In Mezza Italiana, I wrote about when she was born in Stanthorpe in the 1930s and her parents named her Soccorsa, they hadn’t even left the hospital when the nurses, adamant Soccorsa was too hard to say, called her, ‘Nancy’, a name that was to stick for life.

‘But Mum and Dad always called me Soccorsa, or Corsa for short, at home,’ my great-aunt Nancy told me with a smile. ‘It is officially my name.’

When I went to Palmi in Calabria to see where Nanna Francesca and my bisnonni had lived, it was sad that the house was only rubble after the war, however I was thrilled to see the name of their street was Piazzetta del Soccorso. Bisnonna Cesca had named her daughter after her own mother, Soccorsa who was the baker for all those in their area and it’s lovely that the street bears the name. Sadly, Soccorsa never got to meet the granddaughter that was her namesake but there is something beautiful and poignant in keeping those links with ancestral history though on the other side of the world, especially knowing back then they wouldn’t be able to see each other again. Sending much love to those closest to Nancy, Soccorsa. Zoë xx

The pictures show (top left) the street they lived in with the park Villa Mazzini above and the church on the corner as it is now, (below) the street sign that I took a photo of when I was there and (right) Nancy, Soccorsa as a teenager in Stanthorpe, my favourite photo of her. 

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Stanthorpe Border Post article…

For those in the Stanthorpe area or with a connection to it, the Border Post interviewed me recently about parts of the books set there. It was a pleasure to spend time in the area when researching the books, especially going back to where my family’s orchards stood, and always such a privilege to interview older, local people and learn their stories. xx

Click to read article…

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