2016 Top-10 Pick! While this story tells of suffering, it is, at its core, about love and innocence and beauty. Set in Australia in the 1950's, its protagonists are young polio patients who reside in a special clinic, away from their familes. Though they receive excellent care from good people, they are nevertheless deprived of the intimacies of home. The touching ways in which these young characters find affection with one another is the basis of what is ultimately a lovely, warm, and affirming novel. There is a simultaneously ancachronistic and timeless feel which serves today's reader a sort of soothing, fragrant broth.
Frank Gold's family, Hungarian jews, flee the perils of World War II for the safety of Australia, but not long after their arrival, thirteen-year-old Frank is diagnosed with polio. He is sent to a sprawling children's hospital called The Golden Age, where he meets Elsa, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen, a girl who radiates pure light. Frank and Elsa fall in love, fueling one another's rehabilitation, facing the perils of illness and adolescence hand in hand, and scandalizing the prudish staff of The Golden Age. Frank and Elsa's parents, too, must cope with their changing realities. Elsa's mother Margaret, who has given up everything to be a perfect mother, must reconcile her hopes and dreams with her daughter's sickness. Frank's parents, transplants to Australia from a war-torn Europe, are isolated newcomers in a country that they do not love and that does not seem to love them. Frank's mother Ida, a renowned pianist in Hungary, refuses to allow the western deserts of Australia to become her home. But her husband, Meyer, slowly begins to free himself from the past and integrate into a new society. With tenderness and humor, The Golden Age tells a deeply moving story about illness, resilience and recovery. It is a book about learning to navigate the unfamiliar, about embracing music, poetry, death, and, most importantly, life. Awards 2015 Australian Prime Minister's Award for Fiction 2015 Patrick White Literary Award 2015 Kibble Literary Award Queensland Premier's Award for Fiction New South Wales Premier's People's Choice Award
About the Author
Joan London is a bookseller and author living in Perth. She is the author of two short story collections, Sister Ships, which won The Age Book of the Year award, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award as well as the West Australian Premier's Award for Fiction, and three novels, Gilgamesh, The Good Parents, and The Golden Age.