Press Kit

Press Kit


Whitewashed Jacarandas

By Diana Polisensky

Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Available at: Amazon; Bob’s Beach Books, Lincoln City.

Retail Price for Print: $19.99

Print ISBN-13: 978-1515366829

Retail Price for eBook $9.99

eBook ISBN-10 1515366820

Press Release For Whitewashed Jacarandas


A young Jewish doctor, married to a gentile, confronts dread disease, Victorian work practices, race prejudice and municipal complacency in an African Colony after WWII.

Context of the Protagonist:

Doctor Rubenstein, about to be demobbed after WWII, manages to land the posting at a gold mine in Southern Rhodesia. He’s a competent surgeon and there is plenty of dread disease most of which is preventable. He has to tackle the mine management, the hospital bureaucracy and the small-minded mayor, to bring the small town into the 20th century.

The setting of the novel:

Jobs are scarce after WWII but Doctor Sunny Rubenstein lands an appointment at a gold mine in Southern Rhodesia.  Attached to the mine is the smallest municipality in the world, Umzimtuti. Surgically competent and self sufficient, Sunny anticipates a free rein in this backwater where dread disease amongst the Africans is still commonplace although mostly preventable. He needs to overcome the mine management, the hospital matron and the entrenched mayor to advance the little town.

He decides to stand for council but his wife Mavourneen, whom he doesn’t really understand, and the small Jewish community worry that rising hostilities in Palestine against British occupation threaten his chances. Furthermore, King George VI and the Royal Family are due to stop off for afternoon tea at the Railway Park on their Victory Tour. Though the Empire is on the wane, loyalty to the King has never been higher.

Based on real events, this is a story of conflicting values, small minds and big ideals in a colonial era that is mostly forgotten except to be denigrated. It deserves to be remembered more evenhandedly.

Thumbnail of the Author:

Diana Polisensky was born in a small town in Southern Rhodesia and moved to the US as a young woman and worked in genetic engineering. Now retired, she lives on the Oregon coast.

The Circumstances of the Author that led her to write the novel:

Diana Polisensky is a recluse living in a tree house on the edge of the Pacific. She was born into a medical family and grew up in a swimming pool in Africa while colonialism was still respectable. She crossed the Atlantic as a young woman, ending her career in genetic engineering behind the hedges at Rice University.

Whitewashed Jacarandas marks the first volume of a quartet describing the mostly ignored burst of development that took place between the end of WWII and the onset of the crisis with Britain over the rise of African Nationalism in Southern Rhodesia which led to rebellion, civil war and finally the election of Robert Mugabe.

The Author’s personal trajectory from Africa to America

Diana, born just after WWII, grew up in Que Que, a small mining town in Southern Rhodesia. It was an era of great expectations and idealism before the precipitant withdrawal by the British Government from its African territories. Her father was a Jewish doctor and her mother a gentile nurse. Diana trained at Salisbury Public Health Laboratories and Harare Hospital as a medical technologist.

Newly married, she immigrated to the United States two years after the disastrous Declaration of Independence by Ian Smith in 1965. She has lived on all three coasts in the US, within the rimrocks of Billings, Montana and four years beside the gold dumps of Johannesburg, South Africa. She retired from Rice University to the Oregon coast, where she still lives with her husband. Her two sons live in Boston and Los Angeles.

Speaker Introduction:

Diana Polisensky (pronounced Pol-ish-SHEN-sky) was born and bred into a medical family in Southern Rhodesia and herself pursued a career first in medical technology and later in basic research in genetic engineering before she retired to the Central Oregon Coast.

Recently, ranked #2 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases, her historical African novel, Whitewashed Jacarandas is based on the memoirs, short stories, letters and bits and pieces left her by her parents. Research at the Bodleian Library at Oxford uncovered 15 boxes of catalogued material of Sir Edgar Whitehead’s including a memoir of his early years. Her work was greatly enriched by a number of memoirs of others entrusted to her by subscribers to her weekly blog oncecalledhome posted over three and a half years and is held together by a healthy dose of imagination and just a touch of farce here and there. It has been a long labor of love and reflects a productive and idealistic time in Africa that has been largely overlooked. Let’s give Diana a warm welcome…

Fun Facts you didn’t know about her:

  • Born and bred in a thirsty land Diana loves the water. She grew up in a swimming pool and has snorkeled in Lake Nyasa; surfed on the Wild Coast of South Africa; dived the rose coral fields of Wakatobi, Indonesia; but is finally content to walk the edge of the NW Pacific every evening.
  • When the science was new she pioneered the transformation of the glow gene from the firefly into a weed and tracked its movement with an $80,000 camera.
  • She discovered an anti-freeze gene in a plant, took out a patent and hoped to revolutionize the agricultural world–but nature was not that easily fooled.
  • Now retired and confined by her tree house to a deck garden she grows 50 pots of this and that in the short NW summer.
  • Once an avid bird watcher traveling far and wide in search of another bird to check off her life list, Diana is now content to watch the hummingbirds at the feeder, the herons wading in the bay and occasional osprey hovering overhead.
  • She makes the world’s best shortbread (it’s Matron Griffin’s recipe from the archives of the New Government Hospital).

Interview Questions for Diana Polisensky:

Why did you write the book Whitewashed Jacarandas?

What inspired the creation of  the main characters of Sunny and Mavourneen Rubenstein?

In the book the school motto Non Sibi Sed Omnibus (Not for Ourselves but for All) is embraced by a number of characters including Princess Elizabeth.  Where did inspiration for this come from?

What’s the most important thing readers will learn from Whitewashed Jacarandas?

When do you write?

Who’s your favorite author?

Where can we buy the book?

Contact Information for Diana Polisensky

Mailing Address:
Diana H. Polisensky
Phone: (541) 992 4796 (C)
Skype:        dpolisensky

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