The Golden Dress
"The image of Molly in her dazzling golden dress haunts three generations. Ivy, who helps Molly sew the dress from a scrap of fabric; Frank, whose love is forbidden; and Ray, who loses himself in the memories of his mother.
"When Ray disappears on the streets of Paris, his lover Martine embarks upon a search for him that takes them to unexpected places. Thread by thread, the secrets of his family unravel.
"Weaving together the past and present against a backdrop of seascapes, Sydney and Paris, The Golden Dress is a rich novel of love and secrets, memories and stories."
"Marion Halligan's magical work pictures have the serene intensity that is now her hallmark." - Richard Dessaix
When Matine went the handyman came and took away her bed. So there was no longer a double bed, literally a double bed it had been, made of two single ones pushed together and their legs tied. She'd used plastic bags cut open and plaited several times into ropes that had stretched and stretched as she bound them round the bed frames, but held tight. There should be a device, she said. I should invent one. A piece of metal with two right angles, and you could simply fit it over the bed frames and they'd hold fast. Then you could just take them off when you wanted to move the beds, to tidy them, or whatever. Martine was full of neat ingenious ideas like that, but they never got made; she had no idea how to fashion a metal device with two right angles. She sowed her ideas into the air, as if somebody else might catch one drifting past and act upon it. When the handyman came he had to cut through the plaits of plastic bags with scissors; no chance of undoing the stretched and tightened knots. Ooh la la, he muttered in a grumpy voice, and banged the frame against the door jamb as he carried it out. So Ray was back to the narrow lying in a single bed that belonged with his childhood, for ever since he'd been a young man he'd slept in big beds - double or queen or king sized - like a king had spread and sprawled and looped his body, alone or with women. Now Martine was gone he was reduced to a chaste single bed. Lying in it he felt like a pillar. Tumbled and horizontal. He lay on his back and crossed his arms over his chest like a person on a tomb. An effigy. His folded arms brought one of Granma's verses back to him, not easily, but kick-started by the machinery of the rhymes and metre that were still in his head, all these years later. Granma spoke such things not really as a believer but more, he came to think later, as a witch. A white witch of course, reciting spells, not particularly expecting them to ward off harms but at least she'd done her bit. And familiar words were themselves, familiar. Whatever they said.
From the Viking paperback edition, 1998.
About the Author:
Marion Halligan was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, and grew up by the sea. She has published four collections of short stories, The Living Hothouse, The Hanged Man in the Garden, The Worry Box and Collected Stories. She is the author of four novels, Self-Possession, Spider Cup, the award- winning Lovers' Knots, and Wishbone. She has also written two nonfiction books, Eat My Words and Cockles of the Heart.
This novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 1999.
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Last modified: April 24, 2002.