The Golden Ageis a novel of great beauty and depth. Wonderfully masquerading as a slight story about a moment in Australian history, and set in the insular and parochial Perth of 1954, it is in fact a large novel writ small. Frank Gold, the young son of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, is confined to a convalescent home for polio victims.
Within this severely limited environment, Frank will discover love, death and his vocation as a poet. An encounter with Sullivan, an eighteen year old scholar-athlete who composes poetry in his head, while entombed in an iron lung, will teach Frank about the value of the life of the mind. In recording this young man's poetry on prescription pads, Frank will learn how poetry is made and also about its capacity to make sense of oneself and the world.
Love for a fellow child patient will also shape the poet-in-making, as will the complicated bonds between the protagonist and his deeply deracinated parents wrestling with the trauma of displacement from cosmopolitan Budapest to suburbia. Joan London's novel takes the restricting condition of illness as its starting point and weaves a story of irreducibly powerful emotion.
This is a grand narrative written on a most intimate and modest canvas.