Winner of the 2008 AWP Award for the Novel
From 1941 to 1947, eighteen thousand Italian prisoners of war were sent to Australia. The Italian surrender that followed the downfall of Mussolini had created a novel circumstance: prisoners who theoretically were no longer enemies. Many of these exiles were sent to work on isolated farms, unguarded.
The Paperbark Shoe is the unforgettable story of Gin Boylean albino, a classically trained pianist, and a woman with a painful past. Disavowed by her wealthy stepfather, her unlikely savior is the farmer Mr. Toada little man with a taste for women's corsets. Together with their two children, they weather the hardship of rural life and the mockery of their neighbors. But with the arrival of two Italian prisoners of war, their lives are turned upside down. Thousands of miles from home, Antonio and John find themselves on Mr. and Mrs. Toad's farm, exiles in the company of exiles. The Paperbark Shoe is a remarkable novel about the far-reaching repercussions of war, the subtle violence of displacement, and what it means to live as a captivein enemy country, and in one's own skin.
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
GOLDIE GOLDBLOOM's fiction has appeared in StoryQuarterly, Narrative, and Prairie Schooner. Her stories have been translated into more than ten languages. She lives in Chicago with her eight children.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
“The tin roof of the Italian’s hut flashed like a semaphore at the clouds scudding over the moon, smoky white clouds, fraying at the edges, with deep purple bellies” The Paperbark Shoe is the first novel by West Australian-born novelist and short story writer, Goldie Goldbloom. It won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Fiction in 2008, and the Literary Novel of the Year from the ForeWord Magazine (Independent Publishers) in 2011. In 1943, Italian Prisoners of War were sent out to work on West Australian farms, a welcome source of labour at a time when able-bodied men were away at war. Antonio and Gianpaolo arrive at Mr Toad’s farm on the Cemetery Road, five miles west of Wyalkatchem, dressed in their maroon-dyed uniforms. This remote holding (“On one side of us stands the uninhabited coast, thousands of rocky miles patrolled by sharks, and on the other stands the vast, appalling desert of the great red centre, studded with the bones of animals and men that have strayed there and melted into the earth”) is home to Gin Toad, albino, prize-winning pianist, mother of three and two months pregnant; and Toadie, known for his collection of women’s corsets. Both misfits in society, together for reasons that never included love. When Antonio flatters Gin with attention and compliments, her attention is drawn to Toadie’s shortcomings: “I can hear him now, his voice so like the croaking of a frog in a bucket, his deep sniffs punctuating each sentence”. The nature of their marriage irritates her more than ever: “He never touched me in the daytime, in the light, that man who ran his hands so tenderly over the horses, who touched his nose to their velvet muzzles and murmured to them as he gazed into their eyes. He had it in him, a capacity for love. But he hid it from me” Goldbloom’s plot goes where expected, but with a twist. Her characters are a breed apart: many are quirky, all are in some way flawed, and while this can be endearing, the only truly appealing character in this tale is young Alfie. All the rest are selfish, some to an appalling degree. Her descriptive prose is beautiful and she certainly captures the feel of the West Australian desert and the small town attitudes of the 1940s. An outstanding debut.
THE PAPERBARK SHOE by Goldie Goldbloom is a unique historical fiction set in 1940's Australia.This this author's debut novel. The characters are complex but opaque.Toad,a farmer seeks out and marries Gin, an albino classical pianist.They are bullied by the townspeople.Gin.Tragedy strikes them.Toad and Gin are plagued with misunderstandings,an unhappy marriage with few if not rare words of kindness to each other.They have four children one of which dies at four years of age.When two Italian POW's are sent to the Toad farm to work as laborers they get close to Toad and Gin.Their relationship will lead to disaster.The title Paperbark refers to the paperbark gum tree for which one of the prisoners uses to make shoes.Gin and one of the prisoners have a sexual relationship. This is a complex story that is touching and at the some times full of tragedy. If you enjoy a complex story full of World War II drama,infidelities,complex emotion,misunderstandings,misfortune,and the entanglement of four adults than is a story for you.To me the writing is intense,full of difficult and complex emotions,but than war and what happens is also. It is a little draw out with details but overall a good read.It is a little strange but it will hold your attention.It is a heart wrenching love story,its hardships,choices,and consequence. This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher and details can be found at Picador,a trademark of St. Martin's Press and My Book Addiction Reviews