Frances Prince launches her book “Gift of Time”

October 5, 2021 by Nomi Kaltmann
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A new book, written by well-known community personality Frances Prince is launching this week in Melbourne.

David and Frances Prince

“Gift of Time. Discoveries from the Daily Ritual of Reading with my Father” is a multi-layered book that defies easy categorization. It is memoir and oral history. It encompasses the Holocaust. It focuses on rebirth, resilience and determination. It takes on the form of intergenerational conversations. It attests to the power of books and reading.

Frances did not intentionally set out to write a book, but it grew out of her decision to read to her now 96-year-old Holocaust survivor dad, David Prince, with the aim of providing him with company and a meaningful way to pass the time during the long COVID lockdowns.

While reading other people’s memoirs, David Prince was prompted to recall and recount many of his own experiences from his youthful days. These include his recollections of being a Jewish child growing up in Lodz, Poland in 1930’s, his ordeals during the Holocaust and his post-war life as a university student in Munich, Germany.  His reminiscences are interwoven with resultant conversations that he and his daughter enjoyed together.

Frances Prince is a well-established community maven, having been an executive member of the Jewish Community Council Victoria (JCCV) since 2014, a representative of the Jewish Community at the Jewish Christian Muslim Association (JCMA) and board member of the Faith Community Council of Victoria (FCCV) amongst a host of other board positions over the years.

“As we read together, my dad started to recall these amazing, detailed memories of events and stories about his life. Some I had heard before. Some were totally new to me,” said Frances. “I wanted to be able to remember what he told me, so at the end of each reading session I would type up some notes for my own personal records, which I shared with a few people, who encouraged me to keep recording the stories and information my dad told me, which ended up turning into this book.”

The “Gift of Time” is likely to be one of the last accounts including direct memories of a Holocaust survivor in Melbourne, due to the elderly age and advanced conditions of many remaining survivors.

“This is not a linear memoir. However, much my dad’s life is here, interwoven with other people’s memories, my probing, our conversations and my personal ruminations.”

During the months of daily reading sessions Prince was astonished at her father’s ability to recall events and people, some of whom he had not seen in over 70 years or ever spoken about prior.

“My dad was part of a small group of survivors after the war who went on to study at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, despite the fact he had only had one year of high school education,” she said. “During our reading sessions I learnt a lot more about his experiences at university as well as other post-war experiences.”

According to Prince, “I hope that people enjoy this book and learn about the gift of time I was given by the COVID lockdowns which allowed me to complete this book about my dad’s life.”


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