Chestnut Street

A Childhood in Tito's Yugoslavia

By Aneta Marovich

Chestnut Street - Aneta Marovich

Aneta Marovich came to Australia in 1965 from her native Croatia, then part of Yugoslavia, where she published short pieces of prose in a daily newspaper. After migrating, she completed her studies in Science and Education at the Australian National and Adelaide Universities. She worked as a teacher, school principal and school inspector. She began writing her memoir during breaks from work and completed it recently as a full time writer. Chestnut Street was published in September 2014. It is the first work Aneta has published in her second language.

'In this confident, delightfully savoury and sharp memoir, you have in one a history of a now superseded but tremendously important era in the annals of the author’s homeland, a period of enormous hope and idealism signified by the all embracing and now defunct name, Yugoslavia; and a family portrait of great warmth and insight, a personal record marked by generosity of spirit, wit and intelligence.' - Cath Kenneally, novelist, poet and broadcaster (Adelaide, Australia)


Chestnut Street is an account of growing up in post-war socialist Yugoslavia through the eyes of a young child and later, a young person. The memoir spans three generations of her family all affected by dramatic events in Europe in the first half of the twentieth century, the family’s fall from fortune, a political execution, thwarted hopes, illness and separation. Through it all the family ties endure and protect.


As two dominant doctrines, socialism and Christianity collide in her world, the author records unique moments only possible in post-war Yugoslavia. The eight year old swears allegiance to the State and President Tito in a school ceremony, wearing a blue partisan cap with a red star. Only two weeks later she receives First Communion dressed in white, veiled and carrying a rosary in her gloved hands.


Examining her family’s past, the author begins to understand what shaped their attitudes to life and why they found themselves at odds with the dominant values of the new state. The conflict between the new order and his opposing beliefs broke her father’s spirit and he succumbed to illness. His long absences while recuperating caused her parents to grow apart and eventually divorce. The young woman’s extended family and her network of friendships are the foundation for the growing sense of her place in the world. She successfully joins the young social scene in the capital, now dancing to Beatles music, wearing Levy jeans as well as singing revolutionary songs and waving red flags.


Eventually she migrates to Australia with her family because her mother believes better opportunities for her children are to be found on the distant continent.


'Aneta Marovich brings to life her upbringing in another time and place, with family, schooling and the nation that Yugoslavia then was all so well interrelated.  Hers is a text of memory that informs us of the rich experiences that migrants brought with them to a new and utterly different world.' -

Jonathan White, Professor Emeritus in Literature, University of Essex



Additional Information :

Independently Published 2014 (Whiting Rock)

ISBN: 9780646927466 - 218 pages - Paperback

World Rights Available (incl. World English)