Ursula: Reviews & media coverage

The Sunday Telegraph
January 6 2007

Sunday Telegraph Jan 6, 07

Good Reading, November 2006  - 5 stars out of 5

"Ursula is a history of and for our time. Told in intimate detail by a talented writer, Ursula’s story is that of the universal refugee, and brings to us all the drama and heartache, the hope and aspiration which is the grand narrative of the 20th Century. Ursula is prey to the vicissitudes of history yet she adapts to and ultimately takes control of her environment.

"Ursula’s story, from her birth in Germany to her escape as a child to Palestine to her coming to Australia, is told by her daughter, Eileen Naseby. But this is neither a paean to a mother, nor a hagiography in which reality is distorted to pave the way for an altered view for posterity. It’s a biography told in the urgency of the present tense by a writer who has an overwhelming respect for history.

"Ursula was described as beautiful, smart, talented and impatient. Her biography shows her to be all of these things, but above all, she ws a woman imbued with a sense of fun and a deep understanding of life’s potential for good and for harm.

"This is a superbly tender and endearing book which will haunt the reader for years to come. "

Reviewer: Alan Gold

Sydney Morning Herald,
October 7, 2006

"It is probably true that everybody's life, if written well and told with compassion and conviction, could make a good book. Here's a fine example. "Ursula Singer, the mother of the author, was born in Germany in the 1920s. By 1933 Ursula's Jewish single mother, Cila Singer, could see how things were unfolding under Hitler and emigrated to Palestine. There, in Haifa, Ursula met and married Tony Piercy, a smooth-talking member of the British Palestine Police Force. Her first child was Eileen, but the marriage failed. Ursula ended up falling in love with Tony's close friend, Nigel Hall, and the new family moved to England then emigrated to Australia in the early 1950s. "This could have been just another life touched by the great events of the 20th century, but told by Naseby, who writes with an effortless beauty, it attains the emotional power of a carefully crafted novel. The psychological complexity of the characters, their dreams and frailties, are captured in a book of great honesty."

Reviewer: Bruce Elder

Bookseller & Publisher August 2006

" ... Ursula is a portrait of a family, and specifically of a child who must reconcile the reality of a manic-depressive and narcissistic mother with the family myth of the beautiful and glamorous woman she once was. Eileen Naseby, both the author of Ursula and the child in the book, is remarkably skilled in demonstrating this delicate balancing act. "The book opens with the myth-making of Ursula beautiful, talented and admired. It seems straightforward at this point, but it is tempered later when Naseby exposes some nasty truths. We then descend with Naseby into the dark side of Ursula, and the damage she inflicts.

"For any reader simmering with resentment toward a parent, this is potent reading. And when the resentment is transformed into forgiveness, not through the redeeming stories of the woman Ursula once was, as the beginning of the work seems to suggest, but because of the difficult woman she became, Ursula becomes a brave and moving book ... genuine, convincing and honest."

Reviewer: Annelise Balsamo

SBS Radio interview, 2 November 2006

SBS Radio interview by Trudi Latour, who spoke with Eileen and her painter husband David, as well as Hazel Flynn, Eileen’s commissioning editor, and marketing manager Mary-Jayne House.

Click here for details and an audio recording

(Note: The program begins in German but the interview is in English)