Little Gold by Allie Rogers
|Little Gold by Allie Rogers
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
|Summary: A beautifully told coming of age story set in the Brighton of the early '80s, Little Gold is a book that will strike a very precise and cleverly drawn chord with readers, in a tale which combines dark themes with an uplifting sense of hope.
|Date: May 2017
|Publisher: Legend Press
|External links: Author's website
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?
Author Allie Rogers was born and raised in Brighton. Her short fiction has been published in several magazine and anthologies, and she won the Charleston Small Wonder Flash Fiction Slam in 2014. Little Gold is her first novel, and it's one that draws on memories of a childhood spent in Brighton to create a gripping, compelling coming of age tale set amongst a vividly depicted 80's Brighton.
Little Gold, the book's lead character, is one whom it is impossible not to like – struggling to survive in a family that's falling apart, she is a character who manages to combine the aching weariness that comes with being forced to grow up far beyond her time, with glimpses of her true, childlike self. She's contrasted well with Peggy Baxter – a next-door neighbour who initially just seems like a kindly old lady to Little Gold, but soon reveals a compelling backstory, filled with tenderness and warmth. The relationship between Peggy and Little Gold grows with considerable strength throughout the course of the book, and illuminates both characters wonderfully, whilst reflecting a very real and genuine relationship – and as someone who had a couple of surrogate grandmothers as a child, the interactions between the two characters rang very true for me indeed.
All the characters encountered are cleverly drawn – from Peggy's old companion Vi, through to Malc and Ali, the troubled, sympathetic and recognisable siblings of Little Gold. Even Little Gold's mother, a woman whose neglect of her children stretches almost to the point of child abuse, is conveyed to the reader with sympathy and a lack of judgement, allowing them to make up their own minds as to how to perceive such a troubled person, and that's something that works very well for me here – Allie Rogers presents situations to the reader without preaching, allowing the compelling viewpoint of Little Gold to take the reader through the events with a new and different perspective.
This isn't just a heart-warming coming of age story though – threaded through are tales of hidden sexuality in less enlightened times, through to truly dark themes of neglect and abuse. It can be a hard read at times due to these themes, but never allows the reader or the characters to wallow in misery, but concentrates on moving them through it, leading to a tone that is ultimately rather uplifting. This is a journey of growth, friendship, youth and age, and there is a powerful simplicity in Allie Roger's writing that allows these characters and situations to wash over the reader like the waves on Brighton Beach – tugged down into a dark and powerful undertow, but released into the sunlight – refreshed and alive. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Little Gold by Allie Rogers at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Little Gold by Allie Rogers at Amazon.com.
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