New Golden Mountain by Mavis Thorpe Clark

Melbourne: Lansdowne, 1973.
165 pages; hard-cover; 22cm; not illus.

More publishing information

About the story

"The dying country town once knew the hustle and excitement of gold mining days. This was Hsin-Chin-Shan - the New Golden Mountain for thousands of Chinese immigrants who worked the diggings with men of a hundred nationalities.

But now the town was a sleepy relic, with its miners' cottages, abandoned shafts, the ornate buildings of boom days and the Chinese burial grounds.

What, apart from history, does it have to offer a new generation of ambitious teenagers?

Louise, resentful of her poverty and her aunt's lack of ambition, decides to escape, and her hopes rest with her possession of an exquisite Chinese painting on glass.

But she makes several mistakes, and becomes involved in a bitter rivalry between two boys over a mysterious prize. Suddenly the three teenagers, with differing ambitions, are faced with a common purpose in a dramatic fight for survival in a caved-in mine shaft."

- New Golden Mountain (1973) blurb.

Background

New Golden Mountain incorporates two short stories which were written by Mavis Thorpe Clark during the 1940s.

"The Pink Dress" won first prize in The Sun Short Story Competition in 1948 and was published in The Sun on 1 May of that year.

"The Weight of the Earth" came third in the Quill Club Annual Short Story Competition in 1948, and was published in The Australasian Post on 3 February 1949.

The full length book - New Golden Mountain - was written in 1972 and published in 1973.

In 1975, New Golden Mountain was published for an American audience under the title, If The Earth Falls In.

"There was a time," Mavis Thorpe Clark recalls, "when shut-in places terrified me, even rummaging under a bed for shoes.

To go into a cave was to know panic - I could feel the weight of the earth pressing in on me. This is what I was remembering when writing the chapters in If The Earth Falls In about being trapped in the mine."

- If The Earth Falls In (1975) blurb.

Excerpt

"From the bottom of the hill Louise saw that the boulder must look monstrous to a small girl looking upwards . . . watching it bump down towards her.

Faster now . . . tearing out the gorse and the Chinese coffee bush, splintering the young wattle, crushing to fragments the bits of slate and quartz . . . bumping down . . . heavy, grotesque . . . a fat body without legs.

Not coming straight but feinting and dodging as though pursued. Yet nothing pursued the legless monster. Nothing directed its path but the vagary of the uneven ground . . . thrusting it this way . . . pushing it that way . . . tumbling in on to its side . . . on to its belly . . . on to its faceless face.

The child did not move but stared upwards."

- New Golden Mountain (1973) page 65.

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Cover: stylised illustration of three young people trapped in a mine.

Cover of 1973 edition of New Golden Mountain.

Cover: illustration of two young people crawling through a tunnel.

Cover of 1975 American edition of New Golden Mountain entitled If the Earth Falls In.