In Search of Anna by VALERIE VOLK

 

She is the one I really want; that wandering spirit, the woman who    gave birth to my grandfather and could not let him go, even when    he had separated himself from her, from the land of his birth, and    from all that he had known.

It’s a long way from a small southern German village to a farm in New South Wales, but in 1889 Anna Werner sets off alone on a   foolish mission, to search for her son who has disappeared in   Australia. From Hamburg to the exuberance of the ‘Marvellous   Melbourne’ of the 1800s and the immigrant life of the Riverina   German farming community of Jindera, Anna discovers as much   about herself as she does about the thriving country she encounters.

In Search of Anna is based on the true story of one woman’s long and perilous journey from the small German village of Lewin, to the   farms of Jindera in Australia. It has been extensively researched and   is full of vivid detail about life in Germany and Australia during the   1800s. It is a sensitive exploration of the relationship between   mothers and sons, and tells of a woman’s search for herself.

 

Read more reviews below...open and collapse each review by   clicking on the title.

REVIEW: Dr Mark Worthing, author of Iscariot and The Winter Fae

“In crisp, evocative prose, undergirded by meticulous historical research, Volk takes us through the story of the life of Anna. Her story spans two continents and several generations.  It is an Australian migrant story that brings to life one of the many forgotten faces from the old, oval framed photographs that still decorate our hallways. It is a haunting tale of heartbreak and loss, interspersed with episodes of love and hope. It is a story that is hard to put down.”

REVIEW: Peter Goldsworthy

‘When a poet as fine as Valerie Volk focuses that gift on history and family lore the sum is bound to be even greater than the parts.’.

Peter Goldsworthy

REVIEW: Katharine England  in The Advertiser, SAWeekend Magazine, 24 May, 2019 - Books Page

Adult Fiction     IN SEARCH OF ANNA   Valerie Volk: Wakefield Press $29.99

Adelaide poet Valerie Volk set out to research a fascinating family story: that her great-grandmother, an ordinary peasant woman in Silesia, now part of Poland, in 1889 set out across the world to find her son, a ship's engineer who had vanished in Australia. Using an outline of historical fact, painstaking research and a vibrant poetic imagination, Volk has reproduced her life and journey in an utterly convincing voice and a wealth of fascinating period detail. This is no laboured history: Volk's research subtly underpins the lively story of a middle-aged woman braving the world in the burgeoning - and sometimes unreliable - age of steam to land in Marvellous Melbourne in its heyday.   *****

REVIEW: Eileen Torney  in tamba  65 Spring/Summer2019   Page 58

In Search of Anna  - a novel by Valerie Volk   Wakefield Press, 2019

Congratulations, Valerie, on a great book.

By using Anna, in the first person, the writer can explore her feelings, mistakes, successes and observations. By transforming an account based on an old family story of the desperate search her great-grandmother made for her lost son in the Australian colonies into an historical novel, she has breathed life into Anna, who was born in Silesia in the latter decades of the 1800s.The kindness and education extended to her by the Countess widens her perspective and we see through her eyes the unification of Germany under Bismarck, discussion of new ideas such as kindergartens (children's gardens) and, through her husband and later her son, the importance of steam power and the development of railways and steamships. Valerie's research brings alive both rural life and that of cities in Germany  and in Melbourne and in the German communities in Australia. Fact and fiction blend to give life and authenticity to a woman who discovers herself, yet the most surprising elements of this story are the true facts of the journey undertaken by this devoted mother.

I strongly recommend this book. I could not put it down, and once finished I kept dipping back into it again.