When sixteen-year-old Nathan Nathan was transported in one of the first convict ships to Australia, it was the best thing that could have happened; not only for him but, later, for all of his nine children and numerous members of his extended family who saw their future in the Antipodes. They all made good and some eventually returned to England – not to the impoverished East End, where it had all started, but to large houses in fashionable parts of London. Their various stories are the stuff of fiction.
Dennis Hardy has written various books, on topics ranging from utopian communities to holiday camps; from cities of the Mediterranean to a new town in Australia. But this time he has looked to his own ancestors for inspiration. In the course of the diaspora, they moved from country to country, escaping anti-Semitism in its various forms. He asks why so many then found their way to England? Was this to be their own version of the promised land?
Far from being a traditional family history, this is about the timeless journey of Jews in search of peace and freedom. England has proved to be a tolerant society and the Jewish community has generally fared well. Its people have been able to get on with their lives. But recent examples of anti-Semitism offer a chilling reminder that the old enemy has not disappeared. Writing this book has been an opportunity to put this in context; to show that this is nothing new, and one must be forever alert. The narrative is about the future as well as the past.
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