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A dream of a better life – and a reality that shatters the illusion.
We spend Christmas Day at Hurtle’s house. It is not where I want to be. Children’s voices fill the air in play, but I brace myself for the inevitable scream of frustration from one little girl. It is an emotion I can relate to, but for me, screaming is against the rules.
Mollie Veale 1949
July 1946 – A letter from Australia dangles a carrot: Former soldier Eric Veale determines to remove his new family from British post-war austerity, and take a chance on a business venture twelve thousand miles away.
September 1949 – Mollie Veale dreams of a better life for her asthma-suffering husband and their three year old daughter. Putting her trust in her husband’s vision, she tears herself away from her family in Manchester. Mollie has one condition: her mother’s antique sideboard must go with them!
Nearly forty years later, with both Mollie and Eric now deceased, their son Alan is given a bundle of letters, photographs and other documents. For the first time he learns of the stark realities his parents faced, of the remarkable friendships they made in South Australia, and how they had to face up to a life-changing decision.
This true story, written with frank honesty and good humour, gives a fascinating perspective on the fundamentals of emigrating in a world that predates the internet and social media, where there are few telephones, and where letters are (in Mollie’s words) as addictive as oxygen.