Gold by Dan Rhodes

After Henry VIII, which was huge, I was after something shorter and lighter. This book was both, coming in at just under 200 pages, and had been recommended by Dave Gorman on his blog, after which I’d picked it up from the library.

I mostly loved it, and I’ll come back and qualify that in a bit.

On the surface not a lot happens in the book. It’s the story of Miyuki who his on her annual holiday to a small Welsh coastal village. The book is divided into days rather than chapters and follows what she does which is mostly pretty mundane – joining in the pub quiz, eating the kind of rubbish she doesn’t eat at home, going for walks and reading. You don’t learn much about any of the characters but you feel like you know them anyway, and they definitely have memorable names (Tall Mr Hughes, Short Mr Hughes and Mr Puw being among them). The book has a fairytale feel, almost like the film Amelie. It’s the perfect book for snuggling up under a blanket with a hot chocolate and I loved being lost in the first 197(ish) pages.

The last page managed to shatter all that with an ending that was very ambiguous, but at the same time didn’t seem to be a happy one. I don’t like my books to end ambiguously, and ideally I like them to end happily. It pulled me right out of the happy fluffy mood and made me feel distinctly uneasy. I suspect that was the point, and it appears that isn’t unusual for Dan Rhodes’ writing, but it did spoil the book for me.

I’d still recommend it, but I’m in two minds as to whether I’ll explore his work further.


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