Today it’s a real pleasure to be reviewing Gold Plated by Christine Campbell, published in May 2018 and available as an e-book and in paperback. Never heard of the book before? It was one of those lovely chance discoveries – a mention on the Books for Older Readers website and Facebook page, a little push in my direction by Wendy Janes (thank you Wendy!), and a book I was very happy to add to my reading list. Is the author new to you too? This is actually her ninth published book – and I’m already planning to add another to my list, with Making It Home already on my kindle. It’s so lovely to find an author who writes the kind of books you want to read, and this was one I really enjoyed – my thanks to the author for my e-copy, along with apologies that it took me rather longer to get to it than I’d planned.
Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.
Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul.
What could possibly go wrong?
When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.
Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?
This novel traces a love story through the ups and downs of five decades – a story of love, romance, betrayal and loyalty.
I’m not always the world’s greatest fan of writing in the first person, present tense – but for this story, where it’s particularly important to be able to identify with Rosanna and feel the impact of the events in her life, it was a perfect choice. I liked very much too the way the story was constructed – as the excitement and anticipation builds with the approach of the anniversary party, and we get to know Rosanna and her family, the story slips back to 1964 to explore their earlier lives and all the twists and turns of life that brought them to this point. The music of the time works well as a soundtrack for the optimism of youth, the attraction of the unattainable, the naive infatuation, the betrayal and reconciliation, and the sewing together of a web of secrets that has repercussions down the years.
I so don’t want to spoil this book for anyone, so I do need to be a little cagy about what happens at the party – but its impact and what follows was perhaps the part of the book I most enjoyed. The scenes on which the story turns are vividly drawn – with a cinematic quality and emotional impact that delivers a tremendous punch. And the story that follows is one that any older reader will absolutely identify with as I did, with an exceptional authenticity about the relationships, actions and depth of feeling. There were times when I found myself aching inside – but there were other points when I rejoiced over small victories and forward steps that really touched my heart.
And I really must mention one aspect that particularly struck me about the writing itself – the author’s exceptional powers of description, which transport you into the heart of the story. It creates that important difference between reading – and being at a distance from the story – and being able to feel it. Textures of fabric, the different nuances of colour, the varieties of brushstrokes, the small but significant details that bring a scene into being – this was very accomplished writing, and a joy to experience.
About the author
Christine Campbell lives in a small village outside of Edinburgh with her husband, whatever assortment of children and grandchildren happen to be visiting at the time – and perhaps her first great-granddaughter too. How exciting is that?
When she has a moment of peace, and is not distracted by the varied wildlife currently taking up residence in her garden and the field beyond, Christine writes novels or posts on her blog as well as producing occasional videos about her writing on her Facebook page. You can also find her on Twitter.
You can find all her novels, in paperback or ebook, via her Amazon author page.