Verlegt von
Allen & Unwin (2018-09)


The Incredible True Story of the Troubled Family Behind the Darrell Lea Chocolate Empire

by Wainwright, Robert

ROCKY ROAD is the strange-but-true history of the Darrell Lea family, Australia's own brand of confectionary royalty (like Cadbury in the UK, or Hersheys in the US). This real-life story is part WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, part MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS.

Spanning the rise and fall of the Darrell Lea chocolate empire, the story of the family centres on its fascinating matriarch, Valerie Lea, whose incredible ideas on child-rearing are the focus of the book. The family were the eccentric occupants of a large house in Melbourne, where to the disgust of their neighbours they kept chickens in the backyard and travelled around in a dilapidated old bus. In the mid-1940's Valerie adopted four children as 'companions' to each of her natural children, and sent each child to a different school. Speakers were installed in the children's bedrooms, over which she would read their bedtime stories broadcast from the comfort of her own bed as well as pep talks and her general advice on life.

Aside from being a window into this weird and wonderful family, this is an overview of the crumbling of their confectionary empire. The adopted children left home as teenagers, one becoming a ward of the state and another serving time in prison. All the while, the business was being run into the ground by one of Valerie's despotic sons. The story is bitter and sweet, and while it's (again) very Australian, the eccentricities of the family members do pull it along.

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