Join us for the American release of Toads' Museum of Freaks and Wonders (published in Australia as The Paperbark Shoe), the award-winning novel by our favorite Australia-Chicago transplant, Goldie Goldbloom. In Toads' Museum, Gin, an albino, marries to escape the confines of an asylum while Toad, a little man who wears corsets, marries to prove his manhood. Together they are feared and ridiculed in the remote farming community where they live, until the arrival of two Italian POWs brings music, sensuality and a love that fans the flames of small town bigotry.
In the wake of a thwarted career as a concert pianist and the accompanying emotional fallout, Gin accepts a marriage proposal from the peculiar Mr. Toad. But nothing from the albino Gin Toad's upbringing in the bourgeois drawing rooms of Perth has prepared her for a hardscrabble existence on a subsistence farm in the Australian outback. In her Wyalkatchem exile, she explores what it means to be a mother and wife, an underappreciated musician, and the town freak. She walks on eggshells to accommodate the cantankerous Toad and comes to accept her life without independence, music, or love until Antonio arrives. The Italian POWs forced into the Toads' service change the landscape of Gin's world. She is haunted by the memory of her first child's death; Antonio is exiled from a country and family he cherishes, banished to Western Australia while WWII threatens all he holds dear. In their mutual isolation and loss, the growing intimacy between Gin and Antonio becomes their escape from hardship but will it also be their undoing?