Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Lola Bensky by Lily Brett - A Review

I haven't read any of Lily Brett's previous books but my husband has and he has always enjoyed them. So when she was a guest author at our local bookshop one evening we took advantage of it and went to see her.  Lily Brett, an Australian born to parents who survived the holocaust, later immigrating to Australia is a speaker with a great sense of humour. Her humour also comes across in Lola's dialogue. Also Lily Brett has suffered herself being the daughter of death camp survivors and all other family members of her parents perished.   Lola Bensky is in the same position. Lola spends a good amount of time in New York City. Lily Brett has lived in New York City now for a couple of decades.

The book begins when Lola as a 19 year old in 1960's London has the enviable job of interviewing the important rock stars of the day. I think this part of the  book was my favourite. Lola is fat, a fact her mother never lets her forget, she is clumsy, she lacks direction, but she has an incisive mind and the questions she asks the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, Mama Cass and Cher, to name a few, are a bit deeper than the normal celebrity type questions they seem used to. They remember her when they run into her during subsequent festivals and events.

Lola is like a breath of fresh air. Throughout the book though there lies a most unmistakeable thread of sadness and horror related to the experiences her parents have survived and the profound impact it has on Lola, loving her parents yet quite distanced from them as they can never truly recover from their own lives during WWII in Auschwitz.

I found Lily Brett's writing also concise, laced with humour and the characters well developed. The conversations between Lola and her parents are thought provoking and having lived through the 60's I enjoyed revisiting the music rock stars of the day.

Although the book is semi autobiographical, as Lily Brett also got her start in the job market as a journalist interviewing celebrities when she was young. She also is familiar with the anguish of having parents who suffered so much in the past. She is able to recount what life is like for the children of holocaust survivors.  It is something I haven't normally thought much about.  There is a great deal of insight into the entire experience without being morbid or maudlin.

Lola is a complex character and one I would love to be friends.  Although much of her life is spent as being quite insecure, I don't think she is anymore insecure than a lot of young adults are and as she ages into her 60's through the book she experiences many changes through maturation readers can relate to. I would definitely recommend this book.


  1. I really loved this book. I especially enjoyed the conversations between Lola and Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger. Perceptive, funny and profound and, because I am the same age as Lola (Lily) and grew up in Melbourne the book made a real impact.

    Wasn't Jimi Hendrix likeable? and wasn't Mick smart?

  2. Yes they were. I did love this book. So interesting and I am not a fan of celebrity book s. Lily Brett's latest book about New York was wonderful too. I enjoyed it so much.


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