'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 22 October 2017

Review: The Children of Willesden Lane

‘What do you hold on to in life when facing great challenges?’

The answer to this question is reflected in pianist Lisa Jura Golabek’s life. A child prodigy, she left Vienna in 1938, on the last Kindertransport for London. She worked as a lady’s maid for a short time, but her mother’s wish that ‘she make something of herself’ was ever present in her mind. 

She moved to Willesden Lane where 30 other orphans were housed, and contributed to her upkeep by sewing in a factory. Fortunately, the house had a piano, and she was able to resume practising, which led her to a scholarship from the Royal Academy of Music to study under Mable Floyd.

This is an inspirational story set in WW2, with a strong sense of time and place, surroundings and happenings. The scenes were so clearly portrayed that I stepped into each one in my mind. Persecution of the Jews was the backstory, but it concentrated mainly on the child survivors and how they managed even in the hardest of times, to make something of themselves, and live with dignity.

Many books for younger readers have been written about this historical era. Many others will continue to be published as long as there are stories to be heard. This is one that has found a voice.

It is a salute to love and memories; faith in all forms, and the strength found in maintaining traditions. It inspires with its life lessons and philosophy of hope, courage and perseverance against all odds. It portrays the magnificence of music, and its ability to diminish fear and loneliness.

I loved this beautifully written book about the power of a mother’s love, even during separation, and a daughter’s determination to become who she was born to be.

Title: The Children of Willesden Lane
Author: Mona Golabeck and Lee Cohen
Publisher: Allen & Unwin $16.99
Publication Date: 23 August 2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760630805
For ages: 12+
Type: Middle Non Fiction