Love, bicycles and spies

CDP's first YA romance is also our first YA historical novel.

That Stranger Next Door by Goldie Alexander, is the wonderful story of Ruth's first - and secret - love. It is also something of a mystery story.

Jewish schoolgirl, Ruth, is trying to navigate her own path in life, despite her strict upbringing and the past that haunts her family.

Her biggest wish - apart from wanting to become a doctor - is that her life could include her first love, Patrick.

But the rich Catholic boy is strictly off limits.

Set in Melbourne in 1954, That Stranger Next Door takes place against the background of the infamous Petrov Affair.

At the time Melbourne was still recovering from WWII; and the Cold War was breeding fear about the threat of communism, and raising the suspicion that there were spies in every shadow.

It was big news indeed then when Vladimir Petrov, a Russian diplomat working in his country's embassy in Australia, decided to defect. That he did so without telling, or including, his wife Eva in the arrangement simply made the whole defection more intriguing.

The whole affair took a turn for the truly dramatic, when the 'KGB' attempted to remove Eva Petrov from Australia, and force her to return to the USSR. It made the front pages of all the national newspapers; especially after Australian authorities - at the very last minute - 'rescued' Eva Petrov by escorting her from the plane bound for Russia.

So, naturally, when a mysterious woman moves in next door to Ruth's family - in the dead of night - the teenager is convinced she is none other than Eva or Evdokia Petrov, a Soviet spy and wife of the infamous Russian defector.

Could Ruth's unlikely new friend really be the most sought-after woman in Australia?

Will Ruth's own clandestine meetings with Patrick be discovered?

How does the Petrov Affair, as it became known, impact the life of one ordinary girl and her family?

That Stranger Next Door is already garnering good reviews.

This, from Anastasia Gonis of Buzzwords magazine

Goldie Alexander has created a riveting story with many layers to it. It is told through two points of view by the main characters. This approach gives a close and intimate look into their thoughts which adds mystery and tension, and keeps the pages turning.  

The reader is immediately pulled into the era and setting. Its strong sense of place and time, descriptive historical happenings, social and political climate, class distinctions, and post-war prejudices, are plaited into a Romeo and Juliet romance that threads its way through the pages.

Perhaps Goldie Alexander’s best work yet, this book will appeal to a wide range of readers, between the ages of 14-104, due to the many themes and issues covered. It should be noted that there are scenes with sexual content.

Goldie Alexander (r) pictured with fellow YA and children's writer Hazel Edwards (l) and CDP publisher Lindy Cameron - at the official launch of That Stranger Next Door during the inaugural Melbourne Jewish Writers' Festival (June 2014).