Shining Rivers Ruth Dallas, Methuen UK, London, 1979, 144 pages. ISBN 0 45603 070 0
This historical novel is set in the Otago goldfields of New Zealand in the 1860s. ‘I caught the gold fever when I was a boy of fourteen…’ writes young Johnnie, who enters the hard mountain landscape of Central Otago in search of quick wealth. He meets several odd characters, encounters death and disaster (including a dramatic flood) and comes to see his quest as affecting his own character. ‘Most of all I was tired of living among men who had grown like the stones they worked among, hard and unfeeling, and who thought of only one thing, gold.’ Johnny’s gold-mining brings him (and the novel) a satisfying conclusion.
Gareth Floyd’s atmospheric illustrations capture the atmosphere of the novel, especially the landscape. They also match the historical integrity of the text.