I am a huge sucker for campus novels and books that follow a group of characters over a period of time, so I was ecstatic to receive a copy of The Other’s Gold from Penguin and learn that it checks both those boxes! The debut novel from Elizabeth Ames, The Other’s Gold follows four friends–passionate Lainey, beautiful Margaret, wealthy Ji-Sun, and troubled Alice– from their freshman year as college roommates to their thirties as spouses and mothers. Told in four distinct sections, each involving an important incident in the foursome’s lives, The Other’s Gold is a thought-provoking (though disappointing) story of female friendship.
From the jacket:
Assigned to the same suite during their freshman year at Quincy-Hawthorne College, Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret quickly become inseparable. The leafy green campus they move through together, the idyllic window seat they share in their suite, and the passion and ferocity that school and independence awakens in them ignites an all-encompassing love with one another. But they soon find their bonds–forged in joy, and fused by fear–must weather threats that originate from beyond the dark forests of their childhoods, and come at them from institutions, from one another, and ultimately, from within themselves.
The Other’s Gold follows the four friends as each makes a terrible mistake, moving from their wild college days to their more feral days as new parents. With one part devoted to each mistake–the Accident, the Accusation, the Kiss, and the Bite–this complex yet compulsively readable debut interrogates the way that growing up forces our friendships to evolve as the women discover what they and their loved ones are capable of, and capable of forgiving. A joyful, big-hearted book that perfectly evokes the bittersweet experience of falling in love with friendship, the experiences of Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret are at once achingly familiar and yet shine with a brilliance and depth all their own.
The Other’s Gold is definitely a slow-burn type of novel. White it does revolve around four “major” instances, the lackluster plot moved at a snail’s pace and failed to grip me over the course of 330 pages. These four events felt so unrealistic, and not only that but they weirded me out, “The Bite” in particular… without spoiling anything, I’ll just say you’d have to read it to understand.
Though there are some pretty significant plot and character issues with Ames’s debut, the one thing that really stands out is how remarkably well-written it is. Ames writes beautiful, stunning prose, prose that made me want to keep reading despite my issues with the story. If you’re looking for a beautifully-written campus novel, you might want to give The Other’s Gold a try. Unfortunately, it was a miss for me, but I am curious to see how Ames’s sophomore effort improves!
Thank you to Penguin Viking for my copy of The Other’s Gold by Elizabeth Ames. All thoughts are my own.
Find this book on Goodreads.