Once, Only the Swallows Were Free

Once, Only the Swallows Were Free : A Memoir

4.06 (30 ratings by Goodreads)
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Twenty-five years after Gabrielle Gouch left her native land, Transylvania, communism collapsed and the author returned to Romania from Australia to visit her half-brother Tom who told her stories about his life under communism. Though the story is factual, the author uses her strong eye for detail and the techniques of fiction to create this engaging and thought-provoking account about ordinary people in turbulent times. These sad and funny tales are interleaved with the story of the rest of the family from which Tom became estranged.
This memoir portrays the exodus of Jewish families from Romania and their arrival in the Promised Land, a dream come true for some but a shock for others. It explores issues of identity, disability, emigration and family relationships against a background of the major political events of the time from a perspective that challenges some accepted views.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 153 x 233 x 16.51mm | 449.06g
  • Ormond, Australia
  • English
  • 1921665998
  • 9781921665998
  • 1,191,391

Rating details

30 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 40% (12)
4 40% (12)
3 10% (3)
2 7% (2)
1 3% (1)

Our customer reviews

The sweeping events of 20th Century Europe confront familial love, chance and fate in this beautifully written treatment of ordinary lives in extraordinary times. Gabrielle Gouch's book is a deeply personal account of the journey her family must take to survive with the dream one day they will thrive, in Romania, Israel and Australia. Her sympathetic treatment of life with its impossible challenges, its deep disappointments, but its satisfaction in loves shared and opportunities grabbed, both big and small, so that purposeful, and in the end heroic people are made, resonates across cultures and borders. A usual reader of fiction, I loved this book for its characters, its elegant style, and its simply stated insights into politics and modern life. But most surprising of all was its depiction of the author. Gabrielle is passionate, caring and aware that the peace and comforts we share are lights amongst the darkness, resting on a thin veneer in need of diligent maintenance. Once, Only the Swallows Were Free is written in the traditions of oral history, making the events and outcomes more poignant for their influence on people's lives and the manner of their reflection. But it all stops too soon! Can't wait for the next instalment.show more
by Richard Matheson
Gabrielle Crouch has delivered a great read. As well she has captured a unique vignette of an era few have touched on before. Growing up in post World War II Transylvania she gives an insight into life under an austere Communist regime. Yet the regime was fair to its Jewish population and allowed immigration to Israel. Her family's next period was equally engaging as they adapted to life in the new State of Israel, with the terror and triumphs typical of the time. Not only is the book well written but the content is engaging and enriching. A must read over Christmas holidays and a good idea as a gift.show more
by Anita
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