Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 24, 2014

Sensational Snippets: The Golden Age (2014), by Joan London

The Golden AgeSome of our most cherished Aussie authors make us wait a while between books.  Joan London – author of Gilgamesh (2000) and The Good Parents (2008) is one of these.

But it is worth the wait when we find ourselves reading Sensational Snippets like this, from The Golden Age. 

Meyer Gold is delivering his gift of soft drinks to the children at the polio hospital where his son is a patient.

He put the crate down by Nella’s fridge and, crouching at the open door, started to poke bottles of Bickford’s Ginger Beer, neck first, into spare corners of the intricately packed interior.

‘Take care, Mr Gold!’ For some reason his actions made Sister Penny want to laugh.  ‘For Nella this fridge is a person!’

Meyer kept out one bottle.  He found iceblocks in the narrow freezer tray, and two glasses.  As he poured, the glasses erupted into a fizz of pale brown bubbles.  ‘This is really quite refreshing in the heat,’ he said.  ‘Cheers!’

She laughed, liking to hear the local words in his accent.  ‘Cheers!’ she said.  They clinked glasses, suddenly light-hearted.

They sat at the table.  He told her how he had changed jobs.  The brother of a fellow worker at the bike factory was starting up a cool drink business and needed a driver.  ‘I told him I was a driver.  Then in my lunchbreak I rushed to take my test.  Thank God I pass!  In Hungary I used to drive all the time.  I love to drive.  But, to be honest, I never have worked as a driver in my life.’

‘What did you do in Hungary?’

‘Ran the family business.  Imports and exports.’

‘Do you like this job?’

‘It’s my ideal, I think.  I’m alone, outside, free to move and look around. I’m beginning to understand this city.’

‘Understand what?’

‘That it’s its own place.  It is not like anywhere else.’

An incongruously beautiful woman, he was thinking, looking at her wide, smooth, burnished cheeks, her full, composed mouth.  Why incongruous? Why be surprised by beauty in this country?  There was beauty everywhere, strange beauty, even – especially? – in a children’s polio hospital.  Was this what was making him happy?  It had always been here but he hadn’t seen it.  As if the old world had finally taken its hands from his eyes.

Joan London, The Golden Age, Vintage (Random House, 2014) ISBN 9781741666441, p. 140-141

So much, so economically expressed…


Fishpond: The Golden Age and good bookstores everywhere. (I bought my copy from Readings).


  1. […] children deal with loss better than the adults.  Frank’s father, as you can see in the Sensational Snippet I posted earlier this week, has been able to find some pleasure in life despite the loss of […]


  2. […] Hill at ANZ Litlovers (It was Lisa’s Sensational Snippet that prompted me to pick up The Golden […]


  3. […] The Golden Age, by Joan London (see my review and a Sensational Snippet) […]


  4. […] choice, and with a reminder to read my review of London’s latest novel The Golden Age and a Sensational Snippet if you haven’t already had a chance to enjoy some of the finest writing by any contemporary […]


  5. […] The Golden Age (Joan London, Vintage) See my review and a Sensational Snippet […]


  6. […] The Golden Age by Joan London (Random House Australia) (see my review and a Sensational Snippet) […]


  7. […] Breath Transit Lounge (2015) London, Joan The Golden Age Vintage Books (2014), see my review and a Sensational Snippet Midalia, Susan Feet to the Stars and Other Stories UWA Publishing (2015) Ryan, Tracy Claustrophobia […]


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