Her Mother’s Daughter: A memoir
Text Publishing, $34.99 pb, 324 pp, 9781925603491
When John Norman Wheatley met Nina Watkin in Germany in 1946, he would have regarded her as a lesser being on all fronts: woman to his man, forty to his forty-eight, Australian to his English, nurse to his doctor. They met as fellow employees of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), working with wartime refugees from an assortment of European countries. In this heartbreaking memoir of her mother Nina, or ‘Neen’, Nadia Wheatley writes:
UNRRA is another of the magic words of my childhood, words that set my mother apart from the mothers who pick up my classmates after school, the mothers who play tennis, and have short permed hair, and seem to have had no life before their children were born … the word ‘UNRRA’ turns on a light inside Neen, a light that shines in her eyes.