More Than Gold

Written by Janis Pegrum Smith
Review by Christoph Fischer

More than Gold by Janis Pegrum Smith takes the reader to the times of the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush. It is an accomplished historical adventure story that sheds light onto a lesser known episode of world history. This insightful and well researched book follows the travels of a Swedish immigrant and photographer from New York to Alaska with excellent descriptions of the localities and the historic detail of travel at that time.

I particularly enjoyed that the story focused on a Swedish immigrant, which added colour and cultural texture to the plot. Lars is a well-chosen protagonist with many unique characteristics that make it fascinating to follow his path. He is not the usual hero and macho man that you would expect in a novel about Alaska and he is accompanied by a great set of supporting characters.

With careful detail and atmospheric writing, the author paints a great picture of the journey to Alaska and then the life in its hostile environment, which refers not just to the forces of nature but also to the natives and the life and attitudes of the explorers. The events that unfold during a hard winter are vividly portrayed and make for some fascinating and captivating reading. This has a hint of Jack London’s adventure writing, with realistic settings and characters. It is a great concept with a little love story at its heart and is a very rewarding and gripping read in a wonderfully understated way. It is an adventure story, a coming of age story, a love story and great historic fiction.