The Golden Age

2 ratings 5 stars

This is a story of resilience, the irrepressible, enduring nature of love, and the fragility of life, from one of Australia's most loved novelists.

Book Setting: Perth, Australia
The Golden Age, Joan London

It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia. At The Golden Age Children's Polio Convalescent Home in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond. The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs: love and desire, music, death, and poetry. It is a place where children must learn they're alone, even within their families.

Subtle, moving and remarkably lovely, The Golden Age evokes a time past and a yearning for deep connection, from one of Australia's finest and most-loved novelists.


2015 Kibble Literary Award for an established author
2015 ALS Gold Medal Award
2015 Miles Franklin Award
2015 NSW Premier’s People’s Choice Award
2015 Literary Fiction Book of the Year
2015 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction
2015 The Stella Prize

Available Formats

  • Paperback
    $19.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9780857989000
    Published: 03/08/2015
    Imprint: Vintage Australia
  • Trade Paperback
    $32.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9781741666441
    Published: 01/08/2014
    Imprint: Vintage Australia
    Extent: 256 pages
  • eBook
    ISBN: 9780857981547
    Published: 01/08/2014
    Imprint: RHA eBooks Adult
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"Fearless, graceful and deeply benevolent" - Helen Garner

"London is my favourite Australian writer; her prose is matchless in its precision, beauty and clear-eyed compassion" - Charlotte Wood

"A brilliant display of life and change: the transition between war and peace, between love and permission, between terrible paralysis of various kinds and movement" - Brenda Walker, The Monthly

"London’s novels seem to float, unsupported . . . The Golden Age is nevertheless a book that carries the quiet assurance of a classic, which it will most certainly become" - Tegan Bennett Daylight, Sydney Review of Books

"Joan London is a superlative writer. The Golden Age, her latest novel, is set in Perth during the polio epidemic. It’s pitch perfect and word perfect. And in writing about children and illness London pays young people the respect of giving them total composure and self-hood" - Sophie Cunningham, Australian

"[London] has already proven in novels such as Gilgamesh and The Good Parents to be our finest living writer of marriage and family life. The Golden Age burnishes these credentials: it is her most accomplished and keenly felt work to date. Every other book I read this year will seem loud and blatant beside it" - Geordie Williamson, Australian

"Everything [Joan London] writes is pitch perfect and so richly yet modestly insightful that it illuminates the everyday for the reader long after each book has been finished and laid reluctantly aside" - Adelaide Advertiser

"London is not prolific (this is her third novel) but what she does produce is exquisite" - Susan Johnson, Courier-Mail

Joan London

Joan London

Joan London is the author of two prize-winning collections of stories, Sister Ships, which won the Age Book of the Year in 1986, and Letter to Constantine, which won the Steele Rudd Award in 1994 and the West Australian Premier's Award for Fiction. These stories have been published in one volume as The New Dark Age. Her first novel, Gilgamesh, was published in 2001, won the Age Book of the Year for Fiction in 2002 and was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, The Good Parents, was published in April 2008 and won the 2009 Christina Stead Prize for fiction in the NSW Premier's Literary awards. Joan London's books have all been published internationally to critical acclaim. The Golden Age (2014) is her third novel.