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Peter’s Wars

A Memoir

Authors: Peter Geddes
Memoir - WWII
153mm x 230mm


This fiercely funny memoir is set in Melbourne during the 1940s. The entrenched Protestant–Catholic divide of those times informs the narrative. Juxtaposed is the gulf between Melburnians and the thousands of Yanks stationed in their city following Pearl Harbor; the dizzying effect on the women had far-reaching consequences. Growing resentment and the increasing fear of a Japanese invasion add to the tension.
Born in 1938, Peter relates that he was conceived twice. The conception resulting in his parents’ marriage occurs in the back of a ’36 Chevy. Five months after the wedding, his mother (who wasn’t above telling a little fib) experiences the first signs of pregnancy: it is then she knows that she doesn’t want to be a mother.
As the war escalates Peter’s father joins the RAAF, leaving Peter with a mother who resents having a small child to care for. Neglected, cold and hungry, shame engulfs him when his mother entertains a stream of GIs.
Blending the matter-of-fact voice of a child with the accomplished voice of a journalist, Peter’s Wars captures the precise detail of the period: a kitchen without heating or running water, black market grog, rationing … the combination of satire and realism highlighting human truths with stark acuity.
When Peter turns ten, his rich Catholic grandmother decides his religious education should not be neglected any longer and enrols him at Xavier College. There, Peter learns about eternal damnation and hellfire. Terrified, he responds by trying to make up for ten years of religious ignorance by attending daily mass and amassing enough ‘good’ points to save his soul.
Peter’s Wars is a memoir that begins and ends with the defining factors of every human life: time and place.
‘Peter’s vivid writing has a fly-on-the-wall immediacy which, when filtered through a child’s all-seeing eyes, captures the very essence of Melbourne society and Australia as a whole during World War II.’ – Sean Doyle, author of Australia’s Trail-Blazing First Novelist: John Lang
‘This sparkling memoir is as uniquely Australian as Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and The Castle.’ – Carrolline Rhodes, author and editor
Peter Geddes

Peter Geddes

Peter Geddes’ publishing history is in journalism, beginning in 1956. He has written for provincial, suburban and metropolitan newspapers in Australia, United Kingdom and Canada; he also scripted a variety of programs for Radio National. In 2021, he produced and directed a feature-length documentary film, Bellingen: The Promised Land, which was screened at the 2021 […]

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