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I found 'Gold' by chance in a closing down book shop and only paid a couple of pounds for it. Though I wasn't expecting much the first page was written very interestingly. Dan Rhodes is a relatively new British author who has also written 'Timoleon Vieta Come Home' and more recently 'This is Life', but 'Gold' become my stepping stone into his marvellous work. 'Gold' is set in a Welsh village focussing on Miyuki Woodward as she spends her annual 2 week holiday apart from her partner Grindl, making sure not to contact one another in any way during this period which cements the idea of a modern day relationship. Miyuki however doesn't have her escape during the summer like the rest of us and instead visits the same village every winter, wanting nothing but the comfort of some "brains" down her throat and to read in a peaceful cottage in front of a roaring fire. Without giving much away, other characters include Septic Barry and his Children from previous relationships, Mr Puw, Tall Mr Hughes and Short Mr Hughes who also frequent the local pub and drink together with Miyuki and though conversation between them is sparse, Rhodes gives off the idea that over the years during Miyuki's visits she has grown to know various details. There is much more to this book such as the Gold rocks on the bay, reaching 100 sneezes without anyone noticing then passing away, gold specks on her wellies and the disappearance of Tall Mr Hughes. There is something to be said for the simplicity of this book, it doesn't force images upon you but rather Rhodes lays out the truth before you hoping you understand the subtle references and hints that make up the life of the common people in our society. Makes you think that there is something to be said for those strange occurrences in our lives.
I ordered this book off the Internet after reading a blurb stating that it was about the happenings in a local pub in Wales. This grabbed my attention immediately, as I do enjoy going to the local pub and I enjoy the casual, relaxed British-ness of it all. Thankfully, this book captures all of that atmosphere and British feeling. It is fairly slow paced to start with and it is very character driven, with not a lot happening most of the time. It has short stories scattered throughout about the regulars in the pub that have such names as "Septic Barry" and "Tall Mr. Hughes" and "Short Mr. Hughes" that often raise a smile. The main plot though is about a Japanese girl called Miyuki, who visits the same place in Wales every year, but this year decides to do something a bit different to the norm. I don't want to give too much away here but if you like the sound of what I have described above then I'm sure you will enjoy this book, as I did.
This started okay for me and I didn't expect to give it more than 3 stars to be honest. However, the second half of the book was much improved and we got to know the characters a bit more. Every year, for two weeks, Miyuki leaves her lover Grindl at home and visits the same seaside village. The locals know who she is but nothing about her. This year she decides to do something different which starts a chain of events that seem to change Miyuki. An ambiguous ending (or so I thought) leaves you to wonder a lot. This really works in this case. The characters are so stereotypical of a local pub, it's fabulous. The novel is driven by the characters rather than the plot and I can why it was a little slow to begin with as they need to be drawn out for the reader to understand. A good short novel. One worth reading but not necessarily one that would make me seek out his other work.