‘Devastated’ couple left 9,000 miles apart as wife stranded in Australia during coronavirus crisis

Prof Alison Booth has been left 9,000 miles apart from her husband, Prof Tim Hatton, due to the coro

Prof Alison Booth has been left 9,000 miles apart from her husband, Prof Tim Hatton, due to the coronavirus crisis. Picture: ALISON BOOTH - Credit: Archant

A “devastated” married couple could be left more than 9,000 miles apart for at least four months after the coronavirus crisis left a wife stranded in Australia.

Professors Tim Hatton and Alison Booth have no option but to stay in touch by Skype twice a day after Qantas airlines cancelled Prof Booth’s flights home - with no prospect of her being able to return to the UK before July.

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The pair often travel between their home in Wivenhoe and Canberra, where Prof Booth works at the Australian National University and Prof Hatton - who is professor of economics at the University of Essex - alternates between the two countries.

Prof Booth was due to return over Easter, where she was also set to promote her new novel The Philosopher’s Daughter - which is being published in the UK.

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Yet with both the UK and Australia imposing lockdowns restricting people’s movements, Prof Booth will be unable to return home for months.


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She said she was “very disappointed - devastated, actually” to be apart from her husband - but added: “This lockdown is really important to follow.

“It has all happened so fast. It was barely 10 days ago that I realised I wouldn’t be able to travel.

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“But we have to knock COVID-19 on the head.”

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Asked what it was like to be away from her husband, Prof Booth said it was “rather lonely” - but said: “Skype works quite well because we can see each other.

“We also send photos, so I can see spring arriving in our Wivenhoe garden - the nicest time of the year there - and Tim can see autumn starting here.

“We are both in lockdown in our respective places.”

To try and make up for the fact that Prof Booth is not in the UK to promote her book in person, The Philosopher’s Daughter is currently on a “blog tour” - where different literary writers post reviews on their own websites.

The blog tour can be seen by following @booth_alison on Twitter.

“A most disappointing aspect is that there may be no book launch, unless we can do that in July,” she said.

“I’d been so looking forward to this and to catching up with old friends in Wivenhoe, Colchester and London. A book launch is a wonderful excuse for a party to celebrate all the hard work that has gone into publishing a novel.”

The Philosopher’s Daughter is written from the perspective of two sisters and is set in both London and Australia, with the siblings separately travelling across the world during the book.

“It seems particularly ironic - and frustrating - to me right now that, at the time my new novel is being published in the UK, Tim and I are separated by our respective lockdowns in Australia and the UK,” Prof Booth said.

More information about the book is available on Prof Booth’s website.

With bookshops currently closed during the lockdown, the novel is available online at Waterstones, Amazon and from publisher RedDoor Press.

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