Book Review | My 2nd Historical by a #ChocLit author I already love “Fool’s Gold” by Zana Bell #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 24 October, 2015 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By:

I am a ChocLit reviewer who receives books of my choice in exchange for honest reviews! I received a complimentary copy of “Fool’s Gold” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

On wanting to continue reading Bell’s historicals:

Being able to return to New Zealand is quite the treat – as I fell in love with this country through friendship, as I used to correspond with two girls who lived on opposite ends of the country. One appreciated city life whereas the other one grew up on a farm where her family was self-sufficient and able to live off the land. It was a wonderful exchange of letters and conversations, whilst getting to see the differences between the two girls and thus, how where they lived provided them each with a different perspective as a whole.

Whenever I can ‘visit’ a country where a friend of mine has lived (either in the present or past) it’s a special treat indeed as I haven’t had the chance to hop a plane and visit the countries in person. This is one reason postal correspondences are quite dear to me; they allow you the grace of bringing the world closer to home and by introducing you to friends who stay with you through the tides of life. I had to smile when Ms Bell mentioned appreciating writing about Kiwis because one of my friends used to hand-write her letters on Kiwi stationery.

In regards to reading my second historical by Ms Bell, the pleasure is mine! After reading Close to the Wind my mind was lit afire with a happiness of finding a writer who knew exactly what I was hoping to find inside a high seas epic romance! I loved the combination of her settings and the interactions between Georgiana and Trent, as she gave us such a welcoming depth of their character’s evolving journey.

Here is a short quote from my review which I believe explains what I’m referencing:

There is a sudden depth of knowledge ebbing out of Trent’s past life which provides a kaleidoscope of emotions; as you presumed he lived his life more of a pirate than a gent. A glimpse into his rough-hewn past reveals a vulnerable vein of humanity. It’s the choices that each have to make in successive chapters which will give way to where their fates are directing them. I personally was enthralled from the first chapter until the last — not wanting the action, the danger, or the intrigue to let up even an inch! This is definitely an enjoyable read for those who like a bit of a daring risk towards seeking freedom of its most innocent ideal! As much as it is an exposition on self-identity and the assurances we all seek to understand where we belong.

This next novel by Bell has already garnished quite a heap of attention and notoriety by the time it’s reached my hands to read. I sort of had a sense this novel might resonate with readers – I loved it from the moment I first read the synopsis because I liked how the set-up of the plot sounded. Sometimes you gather a proper sense about novels before you read them; this surely was one of those for me! I’m thankful and full of thanksgiving for being able to read it a year after it’s release.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.Book Review | My 2nd Historical by a #ChocLit author I already love “Fool’s Gold” by Zana Bell #ChocLitSaturdaysFool's Gold
by Zana Bell
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Berni Stevens
Source: Direct from Publisher

Love – is it worth its weight in gold?

It’s 1866 and the gold rush is on. Left to fend for herself in the wilds of New Zealand’s west coast, Lady Guinevere Stanhope is determined to do whatever it takes to rescue her ancestral home and restore her father’s good name.

Forced out of his native Ireland, Quinn O’Donnell dreams of striking gold. His fiercely held prejudices make him loath to help any English person, let alone a lady as haughty and obstinate as Guinevere. But when a flash flood hits, Quinn is compelled to rescue her, and their paths become entwined in this uncharted new world.
Though a most inconvenient attraction forms between them, both remain determined to pursue their dreams, whatever the cost.

Will they realise in time that all that glitters is not gold?

Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781781891834

Also by this author: Close to the Wind, Guest Post by Zana Bell: Ingredients for a Ripping Tale

Published by ChocLitUK

on 7th October 2014

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 320

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLitUK)

Formats Available: Paperback, Audiobook and E-book

Previously I was introduced to her style of historicals by way of Close to the Wind!

Converse via: #ChocLit

About Zana Bell

Zana Bell

Zana lives in New Zealand. She describes herself as a big fan of Georgette Heyer and combines the elements of light-hearted romance with travel and adventure. Zana’s first book was a young adult time travel, published in New Zealand and Australia. Her second novel was an historical, based on the life and times of Charlotte Badger, convict, pirate and New Zealand’s first English woman immigrant. It was voted Single Titles 10 Best Books in 2008.

She is also the author of two contemporary romances from Harlequin’s Super romance line. The first won a Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice Award 2010. Close to the Wind was her debut novel with Choc Lit and the return to her love of writing historical novels. Fool’s Gold won the 2015 Koru Award for Excellence from the Romance Writers’ of New Zealand.

Historical Fiction by ChocLit is wicked brilliant:

I’ve been quite keen on historicals by ChocLit for a long while now, as most of what bewitches my heart to read by ChocLit ends up being a historical narrative! It’s hard not to find a fluttering of joy emitting out of my eyes when I catch sight of the stories the ChocLit authors are penning for us to find; the historicals have become quite dear to me, because each writer has taken it upon themselves to give us such a grounded vision of their chosen era and setting as if to allow us the pleasure of time travelling inside their character’s shoes!

It’s moreso than even this though, it’s the focus on the character development against the backdrop of the story itself. How the two walk in harmony and are given equal attention in order to allow the fullness of the story to settle over your mind’s eye and give you the graceful jaunt back through time. You don’t want to leave these timescapes, and I have the historical writers to thank for giving me such a diverse choice of historicals in which to pick to read!

My Review of Fool’s Gold:

Settling into Fool’s Gold is happily a return visit for me of an author whose historicals give me a lot of joy to read as Bell has a beautiful way of encouraging the complexities of her characters to charm you into their folds! Guinevere isn’t quite your typical traveller as she’s taking on the legacy of her father’s pursuit of a mysterious bird (thought extinct) in a place far removed from the comfort of her childhood estate. She’s used to a certain way of living yet finding her in the forest nearly ready to let the magic of photography encase her plate with a hard-won shot of an weka*; she’s enraged instead by the upturnt of fate when a hungry Irishman decides her ‘photographic subject’ would be best suited for his dinner!

*Info on Weka via Wikipedia

Quinn is surely taken back by Guinevere’s fierce personality to put him to rights over the indignation of losing a photograph which would help her earn her keep now that her father has passed. Quinn by comparison to her is a well-worn traveller who has a mite of a fix in his hat over the English (clearly proving to weave a knot of tension between them!); taking a lark of a liking to a new country whereupon he intends to carve out his own path towards redeeming his livelihood and right to own his own land. By all appearances, the two couldn’t be farther apart from each other in decorum and class, but it’s how indisposed they are to believe the better of each other that tickles your funny-bone!

I was so caught up in the coattails of this story, I begged off the computer in order to absorb myself directly into the content of it’s heart – rather than opt instead to jot down notes as I was reading it! I had this noodling of an idea that there was ‘something’ quite familiar about the joss and sass bits bobbing about between Gwen (as Guinevere is later known) and Quinn. It did not fully materialise into my memory until I reached a certain chapter and it was as if by magic a gas lit bulb crackled to life! There is a heap of tension between the two lead characters stemming out of their staunch pride and their irrefutable prejudice! Hence you know know what my memory wicked into view: Elizabeth and Darcy!

Bell did such an incredible job at owning Fool’s Gold by not eliciting a re-telling of the Classical tale but rather, etching into her characters an essence of the former by giving us a new breadth of how class, station and pre-conceptions can staunch any relationship from growing. It was with a clever eye and pen, Bell crafted situations of believable woes to ground Quinn into the life of Gwen; as Gwen full of moxie and indifference to living by her class and title, gave her contemporary peers a run for it when she abandons society in order to earn her own keep.

It’s the little bits of exchanges between Quinn and Gwen which shine the most on their character’s internal complexities – where neither is prepared to yield nor adjust their internal war on where they each stand in the face of each other. This becomes an increasing problem for both of them, yet wonderfully we have an expanding central thread of an ensemble cast: re-pleat with a thrown-away young boy who is lifted up by Quinn to be properly raised and loved; a burnt out actress whose deepest desire is not to occupy the stage but rather settle for an ordinary (sedate) life; and a disgraced maid whose babe of new light gives them all a well of immeasurable joy!

In the ending chapters, I thought upon Under the Tuscan Sun (the motion picture; I did not read the book) as Bell beautifully tipped her ink to encourage readers of Fool’s Gold to contemplate the same thesis on how best to live and how life evolves forward to answer your innermost blessings of hope. Life gives us all a bounty of paths by which we are endeared to take, but it is the unforeseen path that alights on our journey that might yield the most happiness by how our needs are met in ways that are not able to be foreseen. I love stories which reach out to touch your heart and of whose characters are striving to live better but might have a bit of a flaw in understanding what their heart is truly attempting to tell them is their truest wish of golden bliss!

Photography, the Gold Rush and Guardians in Historical Fiction:

Bell illuminated the heart-breaking truth behind how some children are not wanted by their parents (even during the late 1800s) and how due to the kindness of strangers, some of these children might have been given a second chance prior to when foster care and official adoptions were taking place. After all, orphan trains were running in the 1800s as frequently as children were on the streets, in orphanages or workhouses. It was such a charming treat to see how Ben entered Quinn’s life and how attached everyone in his circle became to the youngster. Quinn hadn’t realised it when he first met Gwen but he would soon find himself with a beautifully eclectic family.

The historical viewings of photography and how photography played a key player in Fool’s Gold was a pure delight of mine! One visit to my review of Digital Nature Photography will reveal why! I appreciated the care Bell put into her novel to visualise how Gwen was using her photography equipment but also, the manners in which photography was developed. It was quite the complicated process but I felt the facts were tempered well with the joy in reading how Gwen was increasing her skills as a professional photographer, as when we first met her she was merely an assistant to her father.

I do not oft get the chance to read stories about The Gold Rush either of the United States or elsewhere, although I do have Crown of Dust by Mary Volmer as a next read of mine before New Year’s. It is a very curious idea to pan for gold and hoping for an increase in wealth by what you can forge out of a riverbed or mine. It’s not only hard labour but it’s an awkward in-balance of assets as everything holds together based on your claim. Bell did a good job at giving the harder edge realities of this work against the roughness of the cities starting to take shape in New Zealand before the turn of the century. In many instances, these cities and outlying townes reminded me of the American Old West. Where strength of spirit and a willingness to stake your claim in hopes of a return were commonplace.

The beauty of a Zana Bell novel:

The beauty of a Zana Bell novel is that you become so wholly enthused about it’s plot, you soak inside it quite readily at first reading! She has a way of creating circumstances and situations which place her characters in the stronghold of tension where they have to make quick-dash choices whether to trust each other or to continue to remain stubbornly obtuse! I like how she chooses how to get her characters to be ‘locked in a particular setting’ where they have to face danger, each other, and parlay a balance between their fears and their willingness to move forward.

I even love how she uses turns of phrase which give you a pause for reflection – the kind where you get a flavour of her character’s heritage interspersed against the timescape. I like it when I find new phrases I haven’t yet come across as much as I love finding a new twist on an old phrase that befits both the story and the character of whom it’s attached! Bell will give you ample reasons to dig inside Fool’s Gold as she not only has carried off one of the best indifferent exchanges between characters who are indecisive about their true feelings for each other but it’s how she uses dialogue and phrases to convey their emotional angst that is a delight unto it’s own.

Not only did I find this unputdownable but I am quite on pins with anxious excitement to learn of Bell’s third historical by ChocLit! What will beset her characters next!? What hearty story lies to be read? I love finding historical authors like Bell whose historical backdrops are so very delish to read, you dearly do not want the books to end!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This book review is courtesy of:

ChocLitUK Reviewer

On Halloween, my next ChocLit review will be Kate Johnson’s The Untied Kingdom!
I read my first Moorcroft Contemporary Starting Over this Summer. (review)
I disclosed my next ChocLit reads on #BookishNotBookish No.6
And, visit my ChocLit Next Reads List on Riffle
to see which stories I fancy to devour in 2015!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Don’t forget to Replay the Bookish Chats via #ChocLitSaturday by visiting us on Nurph!

Til soon, I hope we’ll see you chatting with us! Spread the joy of #ChocLitSaturday to your bookish friends, all are welcome! Visit my post on #ChocLitSaturdays vs #ChocLitSaturday for more information! And, the words I expressed about #ChocLitSaturday on my spotlight for The Wild One by Janet Gover. Remember you can also drop in on the conversations are your able too!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of  “Fool’s Gold”, author photograph for Zana Bell, author biography, book synopsis, and book reviewer badge were all provided by ChocLitUK and used with permission. #ChocLitSaturdays Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

I’m a social reader | I tweet as I read:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 24 October, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 19th Century, Adoption, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Art, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Castles & Estates, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, England, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Immigrant Stories, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, New Zealand, Photography, Rescue & Adoption of Animals, Romance Fiction, Single Fathers, Small Towne Fiction, Treasure Hunt

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