When their teacher goes missing during an outing, eleven girls grapple with the aftermath in this haunting, exquisitely told psychological mystery.
The Vietnam War rages overseas, but back at home, in a year that begins with the hanging of one man and ends with the drowning of another, eleven schoolgirls embrace their own chilling history when their teacher abruptly goes missing on a field trip. Who was the mysterious poet they had met in the Garden? What actually happened in the seaside cave that day? And most important - who can they tell about it? In beautifully shimmering prose, Ursula Dubosarsky reveals how a single shared experience can alter the course of young lives forever. Part gripping thriller, part ethereal tale of innocence lost, The Golden Day is a poignant study of fear and friendship, and of what it takes to come of age with courage.
All on a Summer's Day
The year began with the hanging of one man and ended with the drowning of another. But every year people die and their ghosts roam in the public gardens, hiding behind the gray, dark
statues like wild cats, their tiny footsteps and secret breathing
muffled by the sound of falling water in the fountains and the
"Today, girls," said Miss Renshaw, "we shall go out into the beautiful garden and think about death."
The little girls sat in rows as the bell for morning classes tolled. Their teacher paused gravely. They gazed up at her, their striped ties neat around their necks, their hair combed. "I have to tell you that something barbaric has happened today," said Miss Renshaw in a low, intent voice. "At eight o'clock this morning, a man was hanged."
Hanged! Miss Renshaw had a folded newspaper in her hand. She hit it against the blackboard. The dust rose, and the little girls jumped in their seats.
The Golden Day is deeply magical but also painfully real. With haunting, sparse language and a timeless style, Dubosarsky expertly explores a pivotal moment in these girls' lives. She does this by inhabiting all girls' points of views at once. I can't adequately explain the breathtaking tension, urgency and emotional resonance this technique creates. It is unique, highly inventive and it deeply works.
(Reviewed by Tamara Smith).
Full Review (883 words).
In her author's note in The Golden Day, Ursula Dubosarsky writes that Charles Blackman, an acclaimed Australian modernist painter, was a particularly keen influence on the novel: "[My] greatest debt is to Charles Blackman's many astonishing, lush depictions of schoolgirls enchanting, disturbing, and endlessly evocative."
One of Blackwell's paintings, Floating Schoolgirl, was especially intriguing to Dubosarsky; it was during a visit to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra where she first saw the painting, and it became the very first seed for The Golden Day. The painting is haunting and beautiful; it depicts a schoolgirl in a hat and uniform floating above a city, in what looks like the middle of the night.
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