The Golden Age – Joan London

The Golden Age - Joan London

The Golden Age – Joan London

I went to a talk at my local library given by Joan London. There was a book signing afterwards, so, of course, I had to buy a copy. It then languished on my book shelf for several months before I finally decided to read it – it was great I enjoyed all of the Perth references.

Here is the blurb …

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. 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.

I found this story fascinating – the social history, medical practices in the ’50s, damaged people recovering from the horrors of World War 2, music, poetry, love and families. This novel is beautifully written – understated, but creating quite an impact. It is a quiet story about a forgotten part of Perth’s history, but covers an enormous amount of human experience and emotion.

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