The heat is oppressive and storms are brewing in Brighton in the summer of 1982. Little Gold, a boyish girl on the brink of adolescence, is struggling with the reality of her broken family and a home descending into chaos. Her only refuge is the tree at the end of her garden.Into her fractured life steps elderly neighbour, Peggy Baxter. The connection between the two is instant, but just when it seems that Little Gold has found solace, outsiders appear who seek to take advantage of her frail family in the worst way possible. In an era when so much is hard to speak aloud, can Little Gold share enough of her life to avert disaster? And can Peggy Baxter, a woman running out of time and with her own secrets to bear, recognise the danger before it’s too late?
Little Gold by Allie Rogers was published in paperback by Legend Press on 2 May 2017 and is the author's debut novel. I'm delighted to host the BLOG TOUR here on Random Things today.
2017 is turning out to be a very very good book year! I christened it the 'year of the second novel' as so many seconds are being published from authors whose debuts that I loved. Let us not forget the debut novelist though, I do love a good debut and was delighted to accept a pre-publication of Little Gold by Allie Rogers.
I was left quite speechless by this little gem of a book. It really did take me by surprise. From the opening paragraph, right through to the very last line, I was just totally consumed by Little Gold, her friends, her family and the events that were unfolding in front of my eyes.
Little Gold is an eleven-year-old girl, she's a bit tomboyish, the youngest child of three and living in Brighton. It's the hot summer of 1982 and most girls of her age are enjoying the heat, making the most of living by the sea and are generally carefree and oblivious to the wider world. Little Gold is not like most young girls. Her family is falling apart, her Dad has gone, her Mum spends most of her time in bed, with a whiskey bottle. Her older sister Ali tries to keep them fed, but she struggles with her own demons, and middle-child Malcy, although her older brother, needs to be protected. His wheezy chest, his scruffy shoes and his general vulnerability makes him the target of bullies, but also makes him very easy to manipulate.
Not everything is sunny and shiny though, and beneath the tourist glitter and the hidden away behind the cloak of respectability is a dark threat that promises to wreck even more havoc on Little Gold's family. Whilst she can sense that something is wrong, she's unsure of just what it is. Her instincts tell her what to do and how to try to protect herself, and Malcy, but nobody will listen.
This is a beautifully written story that deals with coming-of-age alongside end-of-life. Little Gold's hopes and discoveries up alongside Peggy Baxter's regrets and memories is a triumph, and the overlapping thoughts and emotions of these two female characters is a wonder. Little Gold's character has a touch of Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, and the overall feel of the structure of the story reminded me of the brilliant The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon.
I cannot recommend Little Gold highly enough. It really is a stunning first novel, full of love and beauty that masks darkness and pain. Incredibly accomplished. A truly fabulous story.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to take part in the Blog Tour.
Allie Rogers was born and raised in Brighton.
Allie’s short fiction has been published in several magazines and anthologies including Bare Fiction, Queer in Brighton and The Salt Anthology of New Writing. She has performed at local live literature events including the Charleston Small Wonder Flash Fiction Slam, which she won in 2014.
Little Gold, Allie’s first novel, will be published by Legend Press in 2017. Drawing a great deal on her memories of the Brighton of her childhood, the book is a story of survival and the power of love that comes up through the cracks.
Allie enjoys story in all forms, the magic of a surprising sentence and books that defy categorisation. She is a great believer in hot coffee, listening to waves on a pebble beach and talking to birds.
Allie is a librarian at the University of Brighton and wrote much of Little Gold in computer rooms surrounded by students eating crisps rather too noisily.
Find out more at www.allierogers.com
Follow her on Twitter @Alliewhowrites