It was an act of simple kindness for an Australian couple to take two Czech refugees from post World War II Europe into their working-class home. They could never have foreseen the tensions these sophisticated Europeans would create, or the life-changing impact they would have on their teenage daughter. A Promise of Peaches explores sympathetically the culture clashes of 1950s immigration, not unlike those of today, and shows with sensitivity the unfolding of adolescent sexuality.
‘A Promise of Peaches is a thoughtful and deeply compassionate examination in verse of female adolescence and cultural tensions in Melbourne in the early 1950s. Valerie Volk has the reader sympathising almost equally with all her main protagonists, despite the steadily mounting conflicts between them. Mutual incomprehension between and within the “old” Australians and the “new” is dramatically portrayed and its climactic resolution persuasively drawn.’ – Geoff Page
‘I read this manuscript in one sitting, without pause, a testimony to its readability and its inherent interest… A verse novel has proved ideal for the task: the work is compressed and the form suits the intensity of the subject… The climax, when the adolescent Claire begins her sexual awakening in response to Viktor, is handled with tact and expertly delineates the responses of the two. The triumph of the novel is this respect for all the main characters – even Irena, who could be a standard “femme fatale”.’ – Thomas Shapcott (Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing, University of Adelaide)