I love travelling but I am not a great non-fiction reader so I thought reading The Klondikers might challenge me. But I had agreed to review this book and so read it I did.
The first chapter takes you on a journey through gold and this read, I found I was still turning pages if not quite hooked yet. I confess to knowing very little about the gold rush and it was extremely interesting to find out a little about it.
But what kept me turning pages was so much more than learning about gold and the prospector’s journey. Essentially a journal narrating a similar journey to that taken by a prospector way back in the 19th century, the narrative is punctuated with sometimes outrageous comments on the people that he met that made me laugh out loud. It is a human story, warts and all, full of the little details that make up each of our lives. The arguments, the bodily functions, the opinions and then casual ambivalence to some of life’s big questions. Handy’s exasperation at less experienced travel companions did smack of gender stereotyping but then it was maybe just the frustration of being more of an expert and not being listened to?
The personal stories make travel writing for me and I enjoyed getting to know Handy through this narrative. But The Klondikers does have more to offer; the history of the towns and the people who have become synonymous with the gold rush era are skilfully interwoven within the pages of this book. What I also liked was the penultimate chapter that mops up some final details of many of the historic characters discussed throughout The Klondikers; for me this closed the loop and I very much appreciated this moment to have some of my questions answered in such a concise chapter.
One criticism of this book is the shameful lack of proof-reading and there are a number of places where punctuation was inaccurately used and only a bit of skilful unpicking and reknitting paragraphs together could make sense of the narrative. That aside, overall this was a surprisingly page turning book and I would highly recommend it with a 4-star rating.
The Klondikers can be purchased from Amazon for £14.10.