Journey of a Groningen Girl
‘The Lost Sister of Groningen’ is a true story. The novel spans the time from roughly 1921- 1956 in Groningen, Netherlands to 1956-to present day Australia. It traces four generations of Suiding, Spier and Jones families, but focuses mainly on one daughter of Holland, Anneke and her siblings. It is the story of Anneke, who migrates to Australia with her sister, who is then abandoned by her, and left to live with foster parents at the age of 12 and a half in Adelaide.The themes of the novel explore; the journey of hardship in childhood for one family, documenting their lives through; prewar Holland, the occupation of the Netherlands by German forces in the War 1939-1945, the War of Independence in Indonesia, Migration, and finally resettlement in the foreign land of Australia.The novel explores institutionalization and the effects that had on the sisters, destitution, both financially and emotionally, foster care, and alienation.The novel is appealing to both Dutch and Australians alike, as it documents for Australians what type of background some of our migrants brought with when they arrived in our country. In return, it reveals what became of the emigrants, who left their homeland, and what experiences they found in their new life.The Suiding Sisters in this novel were discarded by their parents voluntarily, during wartime Holland. Both were collaborators. Their father, Wolbertus Suiding leaves home and works for the German Army during WW2, and their mother, Annechiena Suiding leaves home consistently to sleep with high ranking German officers, leaving her children to fend for them selves. Eventually a divorce occurs in 1943 and the establishment of the family breakdown begins. The story does touch on the Jewish history of that nation, because the grandmother of the sisters, Jacoba Spier does have Jewish heritage. The story is not of the Jewish Holocaust however, but of selfish and cruel people, who abandon their children consistently throughout their lives, thus denying their parental responsibilities. Father, AKA the Wolf, manipulates and mistreats his daughters, financially and emotionally.It also attempts to highlight the fact that either the Australian or Netherlands Governments were responsible enough to care for these children, even though they had made orders for their care. The authorities never follow up the children’s welfare and as a result, much hardship occurs for them all.Therefore many questions are then posed for the reader -who is it that should have been responsible for these sisters?The sisters had to pay dearly for any amount of happiness that they had. The social conditions in an occupied country where collaborators made definitive choices that would affect the next 50 years of life for their siblings, is the main theme of the story and the backbone of the novel. In the end Anneke does not know if she has a Dutch father or a German father. Like so many other children born in the war Anneke, has spent a life time wondering.The book is illustrated with beautiful paintings by Malcolm Jones and told through poetry and narrative.
Last updated by Nell Jones Jul 24, 2010.