Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Review: Touch of Gold

I had the pleasure of answering a few questions by e-mail from author Vivien Gorham earlier this year, so I was very interested to read and review her first novel after it was published this fall.

Touch of Gold tells the story of Jamie, a thirteen year-old girl who, following her parents' divorce, has moved with her mother from Halifax to a small Nova Scotian town. There she discovers a palomino mare in a field by the road who appears to need a friend as much as Jamie does. Just as Jamie befriends the horse's widowed owner and begins to bond with the mare, she learns that "Peach" will soon be sold to the formidable owner and trainer of Tamarack Stables, a nearby show barn. Will Jamie, new to the horse world, be allowed to maintain contact with her equine friend? Could the more experienced riders around Jamie's age at Tamarack Stables accept her presence there and even become her friends?

Upon receiving my copy of Touch of Gold, I was struck by the beautiful cover and layout. The overall length and short chapters will appeal to the pre-teen demographic who won't feel overwhelmed by the book. The main character is the type of independent, goal-oriented teen who will resonate with readers even if she doesn't always make the wisest decisions.

The story is accessibly written to appeal to a wide range of readers while maintaining enough twists to keep things interesting. I would have liked to see a few of the secondary characters fleshed out more but given the ending of the novel, I wonder if we'll be reading more about some of them in a future novel.

Overall, Vivien Gorham does a very good job of expressing on the page the relationship between a horse and rider or handler, as well as the comfort that horses can provide for us. Each horse has a distinct personality, and many of the different human personalities often present in the horse world are included in the story.

More experienced show riders will notice a few minor horse show mistakes such as a rider wearing white breeches and white gloves for a hunt seat equitation class (beige breeches and dark gloves, please!), or a rider being awarded four faults for a refusal in a hunter class, but these small details don't detract from the story and can easily be remedied in future novels by some more exposure to the hunter/jumper world.

I believe that many young readers would be delighted to receive a copy of Touch of Gold and delve into Jamie and Peach's story.

Touch of Gold, written by Vivien Gorham, is available in Canada from bookstores, Nimbus PublishingChapters/Indigo and American and international readers may pre-order online from bookstores, Amazon and Book Depository; release date February 2016.

Disclosure: I have received no financial compensation for writing this review aside from a sample or copy of the product to be reviewed. My reviews are always my honest opinion and experience. Readers who use reviewed products do so at their own risk.