“You must become like a brown suitcase. You must close up tight, protect your most needed possessions – all you can hold. Your heart, your mind, your soul. You must become like a little suitcase and try not to think about home.”
Award winning Australian author Favel Parrett has created a tender story about families, longing and what home really means, that will stay with you long after you have read the last page of There was Still Love.
Twin sisters are separated by war, one remains in Prague and the other is given the opportunity to leave and finds her way to Melbourne in Australia. Yet time and distance doesn’t diminish the bond that these women share. Parrett shares each of their stories through the eyes of their grandchildren.
Prague 1980 – Ludêk and Babi, his grandmother, live in a small flat in Prague. It’s just the two of them as Ludêk’s mother is a performer with the famous Black Theatre and travels the world with her show. She hasn’t been able to stay still since Ludêk’s father died unexpectedly and left her alone with a son to raise. He feels his mother’s absence keenly.
Ludêk runs around the streets near his home in a world of his own creation, coloured by stories his elders tell him and people he encounters. When Mana and Bill visit, he begins to see the people they all once were. The special names, shared songs and many stories help him to discover the world they once lived in.
Melbourne 1980: On the other side of the world is Malá Kiška or Little Fox as she is called. Little Fox spends lots of time with her grandmother Mana and grandfather Bill. While they have lived a safe life in Melbourne, they feel isolated and patiently wait until are until they can visit their home once more. They save their 50 cent pieces in a glass jar and buy the cheapest tickets that they can find to return home every few years.
The two children are on different sides of the world and yet they are also in the very same flat with the warm smell of homemade food, old photos, heavy wooden doors and stories from the past. Every few years the sisters come together and are whole again for a short time.
There was Still Love is a reflection or a meditation on families, filled with history, rituals, longing, escape and the meaning of home. This is the story of a family torn apart by a war and how they survived afterwards. It transports the reader to another time, there is warmth, bitterness, desperation, the sting of aching separation of families but there is also love, song, laughter, food and hope.
Although fiction Parrett has drawn on her own family history. The book is dedicated to her grandparents and the love that she feels for them is almost tangible throughout the book.
This is highly recommended read – make sure you set aside enough time to savour this one as it requires all your attention and then some time to reflect on it afterwards.
About the author:
In 2011, Favel Parrett’s career was launched with her critically acclaimed debut PAST THE SHALLOWS. A heart-breaking novel, it was sold internationally, shortlisted in the prestigious Miles Franklin Award and won the Dobbie Literary Award. Favel herself won the ABIA Newcomer of the Year Award in 2012. Her next novel, WHEN THE NIGHT COMES, was also critically acclaimed and further consolidated Favel’s reputation with booksellers and readers. Favel’s short stories have been published in various journals including Island, Griffith Review and Wet Ink. THERE WAS STILL LOVE is Favel’s eagerly awaited third novel.