When Bettina Mendl arrived in Sydney in 1939 from Vienna she was on the run. In her homeland of Austria she was wanted by Hitler's SS, and in Australia she was an enemy alien. Fearing internment, Bettina fled the city for the vast open spaces of the Australian outback. There she met Joe McDuff, salt-of-the-earth bushman, who won Bettina's heart after rescuing her from her lonely bush camp. Wary at first, Bettina soon realised she had found a soul mate. Together they carved out an idyllic life for themselves and their two daughters, Phyllis and Dawn, in a modest shack far away from the cares of a wartorn world. But when the war ended, the family's life changed forever. As one of the few surviving members of her family, Bettina was recalled to Austria to reclaim her inheritance. Suddenly Joe and the girls were swept into another world as they discovered that the resourceful, down-to-earth woman they loved had been born to great wealth. What followed was a whirlwind of travel far from their simple bush home and a new life in sophisticated Vienna, a fairyland of enchanting castles and unimagined luxury.
While the girls gradually learned to move back and forth with ease between the bush and the glamour of European high society, so many questions remained unanswered about their mother's past. Over the years, the clues that emerged made Bettina even more intriguing - a series of drawings bearing Picasso's signature, a coded message, an exquisite piece of heirloom jewellery, a British spy...A STORY DREAMT LONG AGO is an extraordinary journey of discovery as a daughter unravels the secrets of her mysterious mother's life and shares for the first time the tale of a courageous and remarkable woman.