Set in the summer and autumn of 1938, "Body and Soul" is eighteen-year-old disabled Lilbet Marks' very biased account of the love affair between Felix Goldfarb, a recent migrant from Hitler's Germany, and Lilbet's twin sister Ella. Lilbet adores Ella, but also envies her beauty and for her ability to dazzle men. Lilbet's father Simon Marks, her eldest sister Julie, and all their friends are entranced by Felix Goldfarb's winning blend of worldly sophistication and boyish charm. Only bookish Lilbet suspects Felix might not be all that he seems. Also, it is imperative for her physical and psychological wellbeing that Ella remains at the family home. She is determined never to be parted from her twin. Within a few months, Felix departs, leaving behind gigantic gambling debts and Ella pregnant. Though he subsequently sends for Ella, Lilbet manages through clever manipulation to keep her twin by her side.
As Lilbet records the day to day events at home, her newspaper cuttings and notes explore 1938 attitudes in general, the intolerance shown at the time towards the disabled, the ambivalence she feels towards her family, her insecurities, fear of loneliness and the double-edged sword of love and envy. Though it is a young woman's musings, the voice is appropriate to the times in which she lived. Among the press clippings, the unconfirmed reports coming out of Hitler's Germany of anti-Jewish violence and disappearances of whole Jewish communities, and the increasing belligerence of Germany towards her neighbours add to the growing tension for this Jewish family in Melbourne of the 1930s.
Goldie Alexander was born in Melbourne, Australia and has lived there most of her life. She writes mainly for young adults, and children of all ages.