Our first FOBL event for the year was such a treat. Nadia Wheatley, a great supporter of FOBL over many years, spoke to a packed room about her latest book, her memoir, Her Mother’s Daughter. Mariella Totaro-Genevois, our former FOBL Chair and friend of Nadia’s, introduced Nadia. She spoke of Nadia’s many achievements, her prolific writing career and her support of FOBL. She set the scene for Nadia’s talk.
Nadia spoke to us of her mother’s idyllic early childhood, growing up in rural northern New South Wales, on a farm with her siblings, going on to her mother’s wartime nursing career, bringing her mother’s sense of adventure, and her pursuit of social justice, to life. The decision to marry her father seems still to mystify Nadia given that Nadia’s mother, Nina known as Neen, was clearly a remarkable, independent woman. She was much loved by Nadia and deeply missed after her premature death when Nadia was only nine years old. We are fortunate that shortly after that Nadia recorded her memories of her mother, for fear of forgetting them. These, together with her research and conversations with her relatives are the basis of her memoir. Nadia shared those conversations with her family with us with both humour and poignancy. I found it especially moving when she showed us some of the few small treasures of her mother’s that she has been given over the years, having been given nothing at the time of her death. That her uncles and aunties had stripped the house bare was devastating.
Nadia’s memoir is so much more than the story of her family. She gave us an insight into the turbulent times in wartime Europe and of life in post-war Europe. It is a remarkable book made all the more vivid for having heard Nadia speak about it. I am sure I speak on behalf of all our audience members in thanking Nadia for her fascinating talk.
It speaks volumes that there were many questions from the audience after the talk and that we could have continued to listen for much longer than time allowed. Nadia continued to talk with audience members whilst signing books. Our thanks to Hill of Content for their participation in our FOBL event and for providing the book voucher for our raffle.