The Paperbark Shoe by Goldie Goldbloom

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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 Boyle—an albino, a classically trained pianist, and a woman with a painful past. Disavowed by her wealthy stepfather, her unlikely savior is the farmer Mr. Toad—a 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 captive—in enemy country, and in one's own skin.

About Goldie Goldbloom

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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.
Published March 29, 2011 by Picador. 384 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Paperbark Shoe

Kirkus Reviews

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This tense stew of feeling becomes more heated when Gin secretively spies on John and her husband exploring long-buried feelings on Toad’s part.

Apr 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Paperbark Shoe

BC Books

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Goldbloom, a native of western Australia who now lives in the U.S., uses her familiarity with the land, the climate, the culture, and native flora and fauna to create sense of place that becomes almost a character itself.

Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Paperbark Shoe

BC Books

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Various events increase the locals' perception of scandal, including Gin naming her and Toad's new son Anthony, even though she was already pregnant when Antonio and John arrive.

Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Paperbark Shoe

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

It’s a tough world that’s inhabited by Gin Boyle Toad – an albino, a classical pianist, an unloved woman whose life has been reduced to freak show status with the indelicate stares, the gossip, the pointing.

Apr 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Paperbark Shoe

Newcity Lit

Nonconformity is not accepted in this insular community, neither Gin with her white skin, Toad for his short height and various proclivities, certainly not the Italians, nor the Aborigines, always on the edge of the town, but never a part of it.

Mar 29 2011 | Read Full Review of The Paperbark Shoe

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