THE GOLDEN AGE

Joan London

Winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award
Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction of 2016
Publisher’s Weekly Best Fiction of 2016

Joan London, author of Gilgamesh, gives her readers an immensely satisfying and generous-hearted story about displacement, recovery, resilience, and love with The Golden Age.

Thirteen-year-old Frank Gold’s family, Hungarian jews, escape the perils of World War II to the safety of Australia in the 1940s. But not long after their arrival Frank is diagnosed with polio. He is sent to a sprawling children’s hospital called The Golden Age,

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Winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award
Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction of 2016
Publisher’s Weekly Best Fiction of 2016

Joan London, author of Gilgamesh, gives her readers an immensely satisfying and generous-hearted story about displacement, recovery, resilience, and love with The Golden Age.

Thirteen-year-old Frank Gold’s family, Hungarian jews, escape the perils of World War II to the safety of Australia in the 1940s. But not long after their arrival 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 polio and adolescence hand in hand, and scandalizing the prudish staff of The Golden Age.

Meanwhile, Frank and Elsa’s parents 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 and recovery.

 

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  • Europa Editions
  • Paperback
  • August 2016
  • 224 Pages
  • 9781609453329

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$17.00

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About Joan London

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. London has written three novels, Gilgamesh, The Good Parents, and The Golden Age.

Praise

“The Golden Age is pretty much perfect.”Publisher’s Weekly (Starred)

Every character, however minor, comes to life in these pages….London is a virtuoso.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

“The Golden Age is London’s most accomplished and keenly felt work to date.” —Geordie Williamson, The Australian

Discussion Questions

How do Frank and Elsa’s parents adjust their expectations of their children, as well as their families, after Frank and Elsa are checked into The Golden Age? Does it impact their marriages?

Is there a parallel being drawn between the trauma of polio and the trauma of the Holocaust?

In your opinion, how does the Gold family’s status as recent émigrés impact their descriptions and attitudes toward Perth? How is Perth compared to Budapest? How representative do you think this is of immigrants’ perception of their new home?

How is the Australian landscape used to characterize both the Briggs and the Gold families?

How do the physical and psychological effects of polio translate into Elsa and Frank’s adult lives?

How does the idea of limited mobility, not only physically from polio but also legally as minors, shape Elsa and Frank’s burgeoning relationship?

How do the characters Margaret, Ida, and Olive represent different perspectives on motherhood, widowhood, ambition, and loss?

How is the Gold’s struggle to assimilate into Australian life illustrated in Meyer’s gravitation toward Olive?

What is the function of art – for the artist and for society – in this novel, especially as manifest in Sullivan, Frank, and Ida?

How does the Queen’s visit to Perth, as well as Frank’s resistance toward it, address or underscore social and political tensions during times of epidemic?

In your opinion, is Frank’s desire to complete Seymour’s poem ever achieved, or is its ambiguity the true conclusion?