Friday, August 10, 2012

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarky

First published in 2011 by Allen & Unwin

A strange novel that I can’t quite get my head around. Reading it feels like when you’re driving on a really hot day and the sun coming off the tarry road in front of you gives everything that hazy, slightly askew look, and it’s like you’re driving into a time warp.

The Golden Day is certainly immersive. The language, the world, the heat, the way Dubosarky writes of the girl-into-adult transition. If there’s one thing this book absolutely has, it is atmosphere. That sleepy, dreamy feeling when you sit in the classroom on a hot day – perfect. The excitement of young girls going on a slightly-naughty adventure – perfect. That feeling of dread and claustrophobia when things start to go wrong – perfect. It is exemplary when it comes to lulling you in. I’m just not sure what I felt when I was there – it really is like waking up from a nap on a hot afternoon – disconcerting.

The plot is thin. I had some understanding of the eleven schoolgirls, but only in passing. I couldn’t tell you much about them past their name, bar the main two – Cubby and Icara. Actually what I found interesting was Icara’s story – in fact even more so than the main mystery. Dubosarky does so well the moment when the truth about Icara is revealed and suddenly her whole characters fits together perfectly. A great piece of writing.

The disappearance of the girls’ schoolteacher is the main plot. But all the little by-stories leading into that feel kind of patchily put together. That being said, obviously The Golden Day is a book about growing up, and all the little things that slowly build into that transition. Throwaway lines from the girls, Cubby’s moments of revelation, the outside world fracturing the consciousness of a young girl just starting to learn about reality – all these things show us the sad and often fraught process of growing up. This is done well. I just couldn’t find the cohesion in the story. It kind of just did float away from me like a weird, sad dream.

But there is beauty to be found in it. Sad beauty. My favourite kind.

1 comment:

  1. What an intriguing review. I haven't read this one yet but it has just moved up several notches on my Must Read list. Thanks for the prompt! jx