What happens when the bond between mother and child is broken? When distance and circumstance make for an enforced separation? Carol Mara explores this theme as it occurred for many families in the 1950s when the polio epidemic was sweeping across towns and cities. Iron Cradles tells the story of one family whose baby daughter, diagnosed with polio, is banished to a Sydney hospital and into isolation. With depth of characterisation and a wonderful talent for storytelling, Carol Mara shows us a small town's attitude to the contagious disease and to the family who are now considered by many to be tainted. While the focus of Iron Cradles is the experience of the mother, Nettie, the broader social picture of Australia in the 1950s is woven skilfully into the narrative. Iron Cradles is a thought provoking and very moving exploration of a family in crisis, of powerlessness in the face of authority and ignorance, and of finding resolution.
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