This is a story of resilience, the irrepressible, enduring nature of love, and the fragility of life. From one of Australia's most loved novelists. He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home. Perth, 1954.
He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home.
It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children's Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond.
The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs, love and desire, music, death, and poetry. Where children must learn that they are alone, even within their families.
Written in Joan London's customary clear-eyed prose, The Golden Age evokes a time past and a yearning for deep connection. It is a rare and precious gem of a book from one of Australia's finest novelists.
(The cover of the book is ludicrous though - there's no character who fits the demographic of the dude on the cover, and no train trips in the whole book. A bafflingly lazy bit of production.)
There are several parallel stories of exile through the book. These two young teens have been exiled from their families and school in the Golden Age rehab home. Frank's parents are war refugee's from Budapest. Several of the care providers in the Golden Age are also from away.
The author sets the tone through her descriptions of the environment and her well drawn characters. Although the story mainly involves Frank and Elsa, there are several sub-stories that enhance the plot and draw the reader into the narrative.
The writing is quiet and understated, reminiscent of Kent Haruf's style of writing. The author lovingly and charitably draws her characters, causing the reader the care about what happens to them.