A story well told

Vanessa Hughes | Bendigo Weekly | 20-Jun-2014

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Colours of Gold
by Kaye Dobbie
Harlequin Mira $29.99

Intertwining two stories set more than 140 years apart, Colours of Gold by Bendigo author Kaye Dobbie is an unusual mix of history, mystery, romance and the supernatural.

The first story is set in present day Melbourne, where single mother Annie works in her father’s restoration business. Asked to restore a Goldfields era painting, her imagination is captured by two young women gazing out from the canvas.

As she researches the painting’s history, their lives are slowly revealed and Annie becomes drawn to them in a way she cannot explain.  Why is she so intrigued, and why has a stranger in a dark coat started following her?

The second story sends us back to 1867, where a paddle steamer captain plucks a barrel from the river and in it discovers a half-drowned girl. Named Alice by the captain’s wife, she has no memory of her name, her past or who tried to drown her.

However, Alice does have one amazing talent: she can see auras. The colours in an aura reveal a person’s true nature, but they also allow her to foretell impending doom and those she warns are rarely grateful for the prediction.

Fleeing fear and suspicion, Alice and new friend Rosey run away to the goldfields, but however far she runs Alice cannot escape her past and a terrifying stranger in a dark coat pursues her wherever she goes.

With such an unusual mix of elements, Colours of Gold could easily have been a disaster, however Dobbie has managed to weave a cohesive whole that will have readers rapidly turning the pages.

The chapters alternate between 1867 and the present day with equal attention paid to each, the transitions smooth and easy to follow. The supernatural elements do occasionally stretch credulity so this is not for those who take their reading too seriously, but anyone simply after a great story will find themselves swept along by Dobbie’s vibrant characters and narrative prowess.
This is a novel to be read for the sheer joy of losing yourself in a story well told.       

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