Prestigious award for Sydney writer

November 12, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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Novelist Diane Armstrong has received the prestigious Biennial Award for Fiction from the Society of Women’s Writers in NSW.

Di Armstrong with award

Di Armstrong with award

Armstrong received the award at Sydney’s Mitchell library yesterday in front of her peers for her latest book “Nocturne”.

She told J-Wire: “I had no idea that I had been selected as winner. It was a complete surprise and the announcement produced a very warm reaction from those present. I am very thrilled.”

On Armstrong’s web site the book is described as follows:

It is Warsaw in 1939, and Elzunia is an indulged teenager dreaming of heroism and romance. But when war breaks out, her illusions are shattered. As bombs fall, she meets Adam, a taciturn airman who becomes an activist in the Polish Underground, and later flies bombers for the RAF. Meanwhile, in occupied Warsaw, Elzunia discovers her own strength in ways she never imagined.

Nocturne is the story of two people whose relationships are played out against the turbulent events of the Second World War in Poland and England. It is a story of doomed heroism and moral triumph in the face of cruelty and betrayal. It is also a story of redemption through love.

Drawing on her extensive research and her own experiences as a child during the war in Poland, Diane has recreated the tension, confusion and terror of civilians when their lives are on the line and their humanity is put to the test.

Some of the characters in Nocturne were inspired by real people. One of them was the remarkable Australian nursing sister, Muriel Knox Doherty, who was placed in charge of the hospital set up in the grounds of the Belsen-Bergen concentration camp. Another was the heroic Underground courier Jan Karski who tried to change the course of history by alerting Allied leaders about the genocide in Poland.

Gripping, dramatic and poignant, Nocturne explores the complexity of human nature through the choices people make when they must choose between honour and survival.

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