By Leonie Binge
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‘Promise me you will always look after your sisters, Nellie. They are going to need you from now on.’
Australia in the 1930s – the Great Depression has sunk its claws into society, resulting in record unemployment, unimaginable economic hardship and enormous social upheaval. Unable to find work or feed their families, many parents had no choice but to place their children in an orphanage or institution. Such was the case for the Peisley family, whose tragic yet uplifting story is told within the pages of Nellie’s Vow.
A captivating true tale, Nellie’s Vow follows the fortunes of four sisters, from their idyllic early years in country Nyngan to the pain of poverty and separation. Confronted by one devastating blow after another – including the sudden death of their beloved father, the crippling mental illness suffered by their mother, the vicious abuse dished out by their stepfather and years of loneliness and deprivation at a Narellan orphanage – the four Peisley girls seem destined for lives of hardship and despair. But against all odds, Nellie, the eldest, reunites the family – demonstrating that love, determination and the unbreakable bonds between sisters can sometimes overcome even the direst of circumstances.
Brimming with historical detail – including vivid descriptions of country life and charmingly recounted childhood anecdotes – Nellie’s Vow is a rich tapestry that interweaves a tumultuous family saga with national and global events of the early twentieth century, shining a light on Australia at a crucial time in our history. With sepia photographs of the people and places in the story to bring the narrative to life, this compelling memoir is a poignant tribute to one young woman’s extraordinary fortitude in the face of unimaginable misfortune.
Leonie Binge grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney in a typical middle-class family. After listening to her mother’s tales of growing up in an orphanage, Leonie promised her mother, Clare, to one day write about them. The result is the family memoir, Nellie’s Vow.
Leonie obtained a Bachelor of Education from The University of Sydney and chose to specialise in teaching younger students. After moving to Melbourne with husband Noel and raising three children of her own, Leonie returned to teaching and spent three years working with young children with disabilities and special learning needs. For the past eight years, she has been teaching Prep children at Mentone Grammar in beachside Melbourne. Leonie would also like to write fiction for teenagers and young adults and is currently working on the sequel to Nellie’s Vow.
229 x 152 mm
Paperback with flaps
Above: Nellie, Kathleen and Clare at St Joseph’s Catholic Convent, Nyngan
Front cover: Nellie Peisley at 16 years of age, in 1935