Lisa's Reviews > The Paperbark Shoe

The Paperbark Shoe by Goldie Goldbloom
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's review
Mar 04, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: australia, audio-book, library-book-or-loan

The Paperbark Shoe is the debut novel of Goldie Goldbloom, and I’ve had it on my TBR since shortly after it was released in 2010. This was the blurb that enticed me to buy it:

This is the unforgettable story of the Toads of Cemetery Road. Theirs is a marriage of convenience: Gin to escape a mental institution, Toad to escape the censure of a country community. The arrival of two Italian POWs on their farm brings music, sensuality and a love that will fan the flames of small-town bigotry.

But other books kept getting in the way and so when I saw the title as an audio book in the library, I borrowed it, and have spent the last fortnight’s commute fascinated by the story.

This is a character-driven novel. Gin (Virginia) and Toad are a mismatched couple indeed. She, an albino traumatised by events I won’t reveal, was in a mental hospital when the opportunist Toad proposed to her. It was her chance to get out of there, and his to find anyone willing to marry him. A white knight he is not…

The Toads live in a remote place called Wyalkatchem in Western Australia, on a not-very-successful farm. They are isolated by their poverty, their individual strangeness and their strangeness as a couple. Gin in particular is the subject of suspicion, superstition and overt abuse from the locals, while Toad is an object of fun because of his grotesque appearance, unappealing personal habits and his collection of vintage ladies corsets.

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