#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · Australian · historical fiction · new release

New Release Book Review: Enemies within these Shores by Debbie Terranova

Title: Enemies within these Shoresenemies small

Author: Debbie Terranova

Published: November 13th 2017

Publisher: Terranova Publications

Pages: 264

Genres:  Fiction, Australian, Historical

RRP: $29.80

Rating: 4 stars

Spring 1939. To appease his electorate, Delahunty orders a police roundup of Italian sugarcane workers. With his marriage failing, he initiates a volatile affair with Amy. What will be her revenge?

Summer 1941. Canefarmer Luigi is a naturalized British citizen, yet he is classified as an enemy alien during the war. Captured and interned for three years, what will he find on his return?

Autumn 1943. Edith is the wife of Tony Zucchero, an accountant and canefarmer. When he is unjustly interned, her father refuses to help. How will a city girl manage the farm alone?

Winter 1945. At Loveday Internment Camp, shell-shocked WW1 veteran Ted prevents a breakout and an uprising, and oversees secret experiments for the army. After the war, what will he do with his life?

Enemies within these Shores is a page-turning saga that sweeps from the sugar towns of tropical north Queensland to the Riverland district of South Australia. Based on a true story, the novel brings the WW2 home front to life.

My review:

Enemies within these Shores is a historical fiction novel, penned by Australian author Debbie Terranova. It is a touching story that brings to life a neglected chapter in our nation’s history books, the internment of Italian sugar cane workers from Queensland, in World War II. Inspired by true events, directly drawn from the first hand experiences of the author’s family, this is a novel that has much to say about policy, politics, freedom, discrimination and culture in Australia’s dark past.

Enemies within these Shores opens in the early echoes of World War II, in the state of Queensland.  William James Delahunty is the representative for his electorate in Endeavour, located in far north Queensland. Delahunty makes a bold move and requests the police gather all Italian sugar cane workers. It is a controversial move that directly impacts many families and hard working citizens of the state. What follows is the continued round up of these ‘enemy aliens’, from the opening of the war in 1939, through to the end of the war in 1945. Enemies within these Shores explores the process of ripping these men away from their lives and families, to be transported to internment camps. It is also the story of those left behind on the home front, forced to step up in the fight for survival and in the hope that one day they will be reunited again with their loved ones.

It is so important to have books such as Enemies within these Shores published. Debbie Terranova has done a fine job with this novel, bringing to life a chapter in Australia’s past that has been overlooked. Centralising a fictional narrative around the events of the round up and internment of Italian workers in far north Queensland, gives a voice to those impacted by these events.

Terranova’s meaningful narrative is told through the eyes of a number of key characters. Through the experiences of these characters, we learn about their pasts, their current lives working in the cane fields of Queensland, the conditions of their internment and a little of life following their imprisonment. Each character has a moving story, which comes with a strong air of authenticity. I can easily see how the characters featured in Enemies within these Shores are modelled on real life figures.

Terranova strives to cover all bases in her involving novel. From the politician, Delahunty, who as a protagonist gives us an insight into the political side, the policies and pressures from the government to intern these men. Then there are the guards that worked at these camps, charged with controlling these men. We learn how these internment camps later housed not only Italian workers, but Nazi’s and eventually the Japanese. The final and most moving perspective for me personally in this book was the women left behind. Through the character story of Edith Zucchero, a very brave and admirable protagonist, we learn how women had to remain strong, holding together the farms and properties to ensure continued survival.

Enemies within these Shores is grounded in a solid level of research. This can be evidenced by the quality of the narrative itself, the author’s note, the references and acknowledgments section and finally, the detailed bibliography. In addition, the author explains in the opening of her novel that this is a book very much informed by the firsthand accounts of her husband’s Italian family, who were subjected to the internment camps. For me, the strength in this novel lies in Terranova’s internment camp scenes. There was so much realism to these scenes that I felt like I was there as a prisoner with these men.

Enemies within these Shores exposes tough times and a particular segment in our nation’s history that I was only a little aware of, through my experience of reading another novel set around Cowra, another internment camp. I could quite shake the events and experiences of this novel. After I finished Enemies within these Shores, I felt compelled to complete a little bit of extra research on Loveday, the internment camp that features in this book. It is well worth following my lead if you want further information on what is a shameful chapter in Australia’s past. I am still astounded by this World War II political move, particularly as many of these men were long standing citizens, having lived and worked on Australia’s shores for generations. I highly recommend this insightful novel to all Australian readers, it is a good way to familiarise yourself with events from our not too distant past.

Enemies within these Shores by Debbie Terranova was published on November 13th 2017 by Terranova Publications. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Enemies within these Shores, Debbie Terranova, visit here.

*I wish to thank the author, Debbie Terranova for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Enemies within these Shores is book #4 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

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