The Gold­en Age

Joan Lon­don
  • From the Publisher
September 23, 2016

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. It is a book about learn­ing to nav­i­gate the unfa­mil­iar, about embrac­ing music, poet­ry, death, and, most impor­tant­ly, life.

Discussion Questions