The Red Shoe

Ursula Dubosarsky

The Red Shoe
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The Red Shoe

Ursula Dubosarsky

The earth smelt strong to Matilda and full of things growing and dying all at the same time. She thought about the grey-green tangled bush at the end of her street, full of cowboys and Red Indians, waiting with their guns and their bows and arrows. She thought about the Japs and the Germans and the shining sword and chocolate biscuits, and the Argonauts sailing across the ocean, and the silver trail of snails on cardboard.

She thought about the princess in the film, ‘How do you do, so glad you could come, how do you do’ and the wonderful butterfly bathroom and poor little Karen and her beautiful red shoes. She thought about the sad smiling man with his chess set and the newsreel and her tennis ball, up and up and up in the air, high as the tallest tree in the Basin, and Uncle Paul with his hands in his pockets, and her mother’s red shoe falling down down down into the deep green bush for ever.   

Funny, tough-minded and tender, this is the story of Matilda and her two sisters growing up in Sydney in the 1950s at the time of the Petrov Affair. Punctuated by the headlines of the time, it shows with unsettling clarity how the large events of the world can impinge on ordinary lives.    

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