Is it just me, or is Australian literature experiencing somewhat of a renaissance right now? It seems as though every other book I pick up these days is by an Australian. The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky is the latest piece of Aussie lit to grab my attention. The novel is about the day Miss Renshaw goes missing on a class excursion to the park and the legacy it leaves behind on the eleven girls in her class.
The Golden Day is a short and quick novel. This made much more sense to me once I learned that Dubosarsky is primarily a children’s writer who dabbles in YA. But it is also a powerfully written and intriguing novel. Dubasarsky does a commendable job at getting inside the heads of these young girls. In hindsight, the fact that some of the girls are mere stereotypes may be explained by the fact that Dubosarsky writes for younger audiences.
My one quibble with the book was the lack of parental supervision. The girls, who are 5 and 6 years old, seem rather independent, roaming the streets of Sydney by themselves. As a parent of an 8 year old, it seemed completely implausible and frankly irresponsible. Now that I know the intended audience was not me (ie an overprotective mother), I can suspend my incredulity a little.
Who would like this book? Although The Golden Day is meant for a younger audience, it works quite well as an adult read. At a mere 160 pages you can blow through it rather quickly. In fact, it quite often felt more like a short story than a novel. A number of reviews and commentaries have compared it to Picnic at Hanging Rock, a 1975 film of some note, but which I have never seen. I picked up the book because I like the mystery that surrounds a person who goes missing and I was interested in the perspective of the girls.