Lithuania, 1913. Haunted by memories of the pogroms, Jacob Frank leaves his village in the hope of a better life, and boards a ship bound for New York. Twenty-five years later, his daughter Bertha sets sail for South Africa to marry a man she has never met, unaware of the tumult that lies ahead. In time, her granddaughter Shelley, following those very steps in reverse, flees the violence of apartheid to live in America, before at last finding home in Australia.
These immigrant voyages, repeated from one generation to the next, form the heart of this richly layered memoir. Drawing on her grandmother’s diary and letters, Shelley Davidow tells her family’s stories in vivid detail, recounting their experiences of love and loss alongside her own. As she learns about the past, Shelley discovers that her aspirations and fears, her dreams and nightmares, echo those of her forebears as ancestral whisperings in the blood.
Spanning four continents and one hundred years, this extraordinary book explores the heartache and emotional legacies of those who leave their homelands forever.