The Proxy Bride from Zoe Boccabella, in a very entertaining style reveals yet another slice of Australian History that may have by-passed many people. Zoe Boccabella begins her story in Italy in 1939. At that time the people in villages were extremely poor, young women had little chance of education or escape from the drudgery before them.
Post World War I migration to Australia saw Italian men vastly outnumbering Italian women. Single women were not allowed to travel overseas, and so proxy weddings were arranged. The groom would send a photo of himself and possibly one of his house; back in the village a bride was found for him. During this time there were three shiploads of proxy brides who travelled from Italy to Australia. This detail is given in the author’s extensive notes.
We first meet Gia in her village by the sea in Palmi, Calabria. It is her wedding day, but it is her brother who stands waiting for her at the altar. We follow her journey to a small outback town in Queensland where racial discomfort is evident. However, the Italian community have each other and quickly settle. Happily, for some, not so for others.
The journey that Gia takes is documented here, interspersed with the journey of her granddaughter, which adds great interest to the story as we see a long view of the new family. World War II means that Italians are excluded from their regular community and for a while they have a curfew, then their trucks and equipment are confiscated before the men are interned. The women join together to maintain the farms but have to face the continuing hostilities from the locals. Life is very hard.
Both Gia and her granddaughter reflect on her past life, and how the future needs to be different on a wider scale as well as within their own family. The Proxy Bride is an engrossing story.
The Proxy Bride is a very cunningly written storyline wrapped in Australian history and one that many who have Italian grandparents will relate to, as this is the story of many who took a gamble looking for a better life, marrying men unknown to them then facing the distrust, hatred and strange new world they found themselves in far from their families and homeland.
As a wonderful addition you will enjoy the Gia’s authentic recipes written at the end of the book.
|Publisher||Harper Collins Publishers Australia/HQ Fiction AU|
|Distributor||HarperCollins Publishers Australia|