I picked this one up as an option for VCE English next year. It is a lovely, soft, and lyrical novel surrounding the patients, nurses and families who visit The Golden Age, a hospice for children with polio in the 1950s.
At the centre of the novel is Frank, an intense Hungarian Jew who emigrated with his family to Australia after the rise of Hitler. Frank was introduced to poetry by another man he connected to in hospital, who died whilst receiving treatment in the dreaded iron lung. Armed with a prescription pad in lieu of proper notepaper, Frank writes down free verse that inspires him – and he is largely inspired by beautiful Elsa in the girls’ ward.
This is a quiet story of connecting and losing connection. I found it slow in places, but was still committed to getting to the finish. I’d be hesitant putting it on a text list for this reason too. This is no easy read and the payoff is subtle and perhaps, short lasting. Lacks deep impact.