On Facebook I said this is one of the best novels I have ever read, and that was when I was only half-way through. Now I have finished it I have not changed my mind. “You have probably noticed that I like this book, troubling as it is. In reading it you find yourself living the lives… Or I do…”
There is any number of reviews out there — I will let you find them for yourselves. Most of them are positive. Similarly the ordinary readers on goodreads trot out the maximum stars, with some exceptions — one of whom is someone I know through other connections, whose opinion I respect.
I am of course not the son of an alcoholic mother, nor have I ever been to Glasgow, lived in a desolate coal-mining village after the mine has closed, lived in Thatcher’s Britain, or ever aspired to be a hairdresser… But on the other hand there were so many resonances. I will leave those who know me to guess what some of them might be! I will say however that as a 10-year-old in Sutherland I did find myself pretty much in the position of looking after my mother who was bedridden for some time with a thrombosis in the leg, as I cooked the family dinners… And there were some interactions at Sutherland Primary School: the accounts of playing soccer seemed very familiar.
There are also many excellent videos featuring Douglas Stuart and the novel. Here are two — the first just 15 minutes, the second 52 minutes — but with a writer I greatly admire, Colm Toibin.
Good review, but she fails to pick where Shuggie Bain ended up in the Booker!