Hippy Days, Arabian Nights

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Spanning five decades and as many continents, Hippy Days, Arabian Nights is a funny, moving and compelling story of a woman whose extraordinary life is without could-or-should-haves. From the get-go, Australian artist Katherine Boland has grabbed life by the throat in pursuit of her heart and her dreams. This is the story of one gutsy, feisty and creative woman.

Katherine Boland came to Australia as a child with her family on the 10-pound-Pom scheme. Her father couldn’t make the adjustment, took the family back to the UK, then Spain, but returned to Gippsland Lakes in rural Victoria where alcoholism and depression led to him committing suicide.

Years later, enrolled in art school at RMIT and living in a share flat in bohemian St Kilda, Katherine embraces the counterculture movement. Like so many of her student generation, she and her boyfriend drop out of their studies to join a hippy community on the Far South Coast of NSW to live the dream – mudbricks and mung beans

– where Katherine’s rollicking tale unfolds.

When a bushfire ends her 27-year marriage in an entirely unpredictable way, she returns to Melbourne where she launches her art career and re-launches her life. On the back of a sell- out exhibition called ‘On Fire’, Katherine embarks on a new life of overseas scholarships and residencies, culminating with an invitation to Egypt from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. It’s there where she falls madly in love with a young translator, 27 years her junior. A six-year long-distance relationship ensues, despite his family’s hostility. A tale of a wild and wonderful romance, doomed from the start, unfurls. Age difference, cultural differences – especially around gender expectations – the Australian government’s refusal to grant visas to young Egyptian men, and the descent of Egypt into political instability and civil chaos, prevent her from visiting Egypt and him from leaving.

Hippy Days is an honest, authentic and delightful insight into hippy life, as well as revealing the darker side for some in that community: the drug abuse, child neglect and domestic violence. Arabian Nights is a powerful and moving reflection of her relationship, her reservations, their joys, their deep and mutually felt love, and their diametrically opposed ways of seeing the world, and relationships.

Hippy Days, Arabian Nights is an enthralling and moving memoir, one that keeps the reader amused, frustrated, indignant at times, but above all, inspired. Katherine is one of those wonderfully rare and brilliant women, who jump in, feet first.


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