The Golden Age is an immensely satisfying and generous-hearted story about displacement, recovery, resilience, and love.
Thirteen-year-old Frank Gold’s family has escaped from Hungary and the perils of World War II to the safety of Australia, 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. It is a book about learning to navigate the unfamiliar, about embracing music, poetry, death, and, most importantly, life.
Awards: 2015 Patrick White Literary Award, 2015 Kibble Literary Award, Queensland Premier's Award for Fiction, New South Wales Premier's People's Choice Award
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.