Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms by Anita Heiss


1. Publisher: Simon & Schuster 2017 2. First lines. 3. Yugambeh Aboriginal Girl. By Adam Jones. Licence: [CC BY-SA 2.0] via flickr 4. “Cowra Breakout” movie. Source: Australian Screen

A wartime romance with a difference, neatly packaged into a lesson about cultural difference.

I liked this book.

Plot: Hiroshi is a Japanese prisoner-of-war at Cowra in Australia, during World War Two. He and his compatriots break out, and he is hidden by an Aboriginal family whose daughter, Mary, is given the job of taking food to him in his hideout. Friendship develops between the two as they explore their different cultural ideology and customs.

Quotes from the book: “And finally to you my reader – I hope this book adds something to your own journey in life. I believe that understanding and appreciating who we are today requires us to understand and accept who and what we have been, collectively as a nation, in the past.” Dr Anita Heiss in the acknowledgements.


Reviews: “The prose sometimes squelches – “life is like the cherry blossom, he reminds himself; short, but exquisite” – while it is hard to believe that Mary could actually say ”Your Shinto faith is like our Aboriginal spirituality”, or know what she might mean.” Full review: Sydney Morning Herald

“Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms is storytelling with a sense of great purpose and intimacy with place. Heiss is to be congratulated for fictionalising the lived experience of both the mission inhabitants and the Japanese prisoners.”  Judges comments 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards


    • Thanks for dropping in again Lyndall. I haven’t read any of Anita Heiss’s other books – I chose this for one of the challenges on Goodreads . I’m glad I read it though, and I totally agree with her comment about a book adding to the journey of life. I am mindful of how each book I read gives me new insights.


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