‘Mama, Mama,’ I said to myself, ‘keep safe. You will survive, and I will survive, until we can find each other again.’
It is the final days of World War II and the Japanese occupation of China is crumbling. In Harbin, White Russian émigrés who fled the murderous Bolsheviks now face an invading Soviet force ‘repatriating’ citizens and helping their Chinese comrades wreak revenge against the Japanese and anyone accused of collaborating.
Recently widowed Alina Kozlova accommodates a Japanese general in her home, afraid of the consequences for herself and her young daughter, Anya, if she refuses. Little could she know what the tragic ramifications would be. And so begins a story of heartbreak and hope that sweeps across cultures and continents – from the glamorous nightclubs of Shanghai to the harshness of Cold War Soviet Russia; from a desolate island in the Pacific Ocean to a new life in post-war Australia.
Both mother and daughter must make sacrifices, but is the price too high? Most importantly of all, will they ever find each other again?
Rich in incident and historical detail, this is a compelling and beautifully written tale about yearning and forgiveness.
‘Depicts vividly the powerful lifelong bond between mothers and daughters’ Paullina Simons
‘Captivating’ Daily Telegraph
‘A passionate and powerful family saga’ Australian Women’s Weekly
This book was inspired by my mother's family history. She was a Russian born in Harbin, China, and when I was a child she used to tell me stories about this exotic time and city.
I was fascinated by the photograph album she had of sepia images of beautiful women and dashing men. As an adult I wanted to learn more about the epic journey my widowed grandmother had made with her young daughter from Harbin, to Shanghai, to the Philippines before finally settling in post-war Sydney.