Solly’s Girl

Collins, Ros


A Memoir


In her introduction, Ros writes that she wants to entertain the reader; she has done a great deal more than that in this highly original, intricately woven memoir. Eschewing the easier chronological approach, Ros has created a colourful tapestry of stories from her own life in England and from her family and professional life in Melbourne, intertwined with research on ancestors both noteworthy and not-so worthy and completed with insightful writing on the career of her husband of more than fifty years, the well-known Australian Jewish author, Alan Collins.

In London the ‘boring’ fifties were coming to an end when Ros met her Aussie, Alan; she was soon to accompany him to Melbourne as a ‘Ten Pound Pom’. Box Hill, nowhere near the Jewish ‘ghetto’, was where they could afford a home in which to raise their growing family of three boys. Life in the ‘bush’ offered challenges to their Jewishness but also gave them a singular freedom. While work in advertising provided needed income for the family, Alan’s writing eventually became his sole occupation. Meanwhile, Ros began work in librarianship that would ultimately result in her making significant contributions to the field, especially within the Jewish community. Ros describes the many vicissitudes of rearing three boys with the dismay, humour and love of a Jewish mother.

Spanning well over sixty years of both Ros’ and Alan’s lives, the memoir is not only an intelligent and thought-provoking account of Australian Jewish life; it is also a loving tribute to the talent and accomplishments of a much-admired author. In the final chapters we learn of Ros’ efforts to ensure that Alan’s work is remembered after his death. This book is a fitting testament to her devotion to this end.

You may also wish to read a book review here, read Ros’ blog here or find her on Facebook here. A short clip from the book-launch can be watched here.