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Book Review - Alice to Prague

ALICE TO PRAGUE IS a book of stark contrasts – the open skies of Central Australia versus the smoggy concrete cities of Eastern Europe, a new world order of Western dominance versus the uncertain future of post-Soviet rule. And in the middle of it all, Tanya writes a charming and personal account of love and adventure in a faraway Bohemian fantasy.

By  Kingsley Gittins

I must confess that memoir, and romance in general, is not my forté. But there’s much more to this work than a mere love story (although if that is your thing then you will not be disappointed!) What makes this book truly interesting is the moment in time in which it’s set. The Soviet Union has recently collapsed, the Berlin Wall broken into a million pieces, and the city of Prague is now open for business and ready for its debut on the world stage.

Having been to the beautiful (now tourist-filled) city of Prague a number of times, it was fascinating to read an account of its transition from old world to new, and get a glimpse of life under the old regime. The Czech culture Heaslip describes, an odd mix of communist repression and liberal attitudes to art and sex, is both intoxicating and capable of filling several books alone.

Despite this, the magic of Heaslip’s fairy tale adventure is at its most poignant when it’s contrasted with her beautiful descriptions of life growing up on a cattle station in the Northern Territory. Tales 
of near-fatal accidents involving younger siblings and skinning knives, interpose the narrative, giving weight and a sense of maturity to her account.

It’s this love for country and the question of belonging that lies at the heart  of this story.

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