You're locked down and it's winter. What better time is there to pick up a novel? Even better, one set in beautiful Bayside.
Much of the action in Brisbane author Inara Strungs' new novel, Sydney via Siberia, takes place in the Bayside council area, and Botany Bay takes on a symbolic meaning in this tale of newcomers to Australia and what they left behind in Europe.
The novel begins in the early 2000s when Mara, a prominent architect, lives on the shores of Botany Bay with her adult children. Her routine is disturbed when Laimonis aka Lucky, the brother she hasn't seen for 60 years, comes from Latvia to visit her.
Together with their parents, he was illegally deported to Siberia in the 1940s by Stalin, and he recounts these events to the household. Mara missed out by a quirk of fate and escaped to Australia.
Mara suffers from survivor guilt and her children from depression and identity problems, and they all reach some stability from Lucky's tale of survival and resilience.
Ms Strungs said the novel was based on personal experiences and she wanted to show "the journey from Latvia to Siberia to Australia".
"The novel is based on the experiences of my family and many thousands of deportees to Siberia," Ms Strungs said.
"I also wanted to portray my hometown of Sydney where many Latvians restarted their lives after the horrors of World War 2.
"I prefer the beauty of the Botany Bay area, where my parents have lived for the past 30 years, to more traditional and overused settings such as Sydney Harbour and Bondi."
She described Sydney via Siberia as a fast-paced, informative, subtly humorous novel about survival, resilience, family and love.
It consists of four intertwined stories with twists, turns and interesting relationships.
It could be your perfect lockdown read.
- Purchase online at amazon.com.au/dp/1922628069