Monday 12 October 2015

Talk of the Toun by Helen MacKinven

Talk of the TounTalk of the Toun by Helen MacKinven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days on and off

Pages - 288

Publisher - Thunderpoint Publishing

Blurb from Goodreads

‘She was greetin’ again. But there’s no need for Lorraine to be feart, since the first day of primary school, Angela has always been there to mop up her tears and snotters.’

An uplifting black comedy of love, family life and friendship, Talk of the Toun is a bittersweet coming-of-age tale set in the summer of 1985, in working class, central belt Scotland.

Lifelong friends Angela and Lorraine are two very different girls, with a growing divide in their aspirations and ambitions putting their friendship under increasing strain.

Artistically gifted Angela has her sights set on art school, but lassies like Angela, from a small town council scheme, are expected to settle for a nice wee secretarial job at the local factory. Her only ally is her gallus gran, Senga, the pet psychic, who firmly believes that her granddaughter can be whatever she wants.

Though Lorraine’s ambitions are focused closer to home Angela has plans for her too, and a caravan holiday to Filey with Angela’s family tests the dynamics of their relationship and has lifelong consequences for them both.

Effortlessly capturing the religious and social intricacies of 1980s Scotland, Talk of the Toun is the perfect mix of pathos and humour as the two girls wrestle with the complications of growing up and exploring who they really are.

My Review

The first thing I would say to anyone going to pick up this book is, it isn't for the easily offended. It isn't that it is out and out offensive however, it is set in Scotland, the mid 1980s and captures the people from the scheme and the language of the times perfectly. It is black humour, unpc and you find yourself laughing, sometimes out loud, at some of the antics and language which nowadays would be frowned upon and all kinds of labels flung about. The story centers around Angela, whose viewpoint the story is told from, and her best friend Lorraine. Angela has always looked out for Lorraine and lately their friendship is starting to get strained, Angela isn't about to let go and is sure when she gets Lorraine to Filey for the caravan holiday with her family all will slot back into place. However things don't go as Angela planned and events come to play that will impact their friendship and lives forever.

This book took me down memory lane, just some of the things discussed or some of the terms, I haven't heard geggie in absolutely years, just evoked a plethora of long forgotten memories. I think anyone who was born or lived during that time period will take a stroll back in time, not sure if that was the authors intent but it was a lovely wee addition and gift from just "reading a book". The main characters are teenage girls, seventeen and some of the things are a bit teen angst because well thats what they are. Angela, for me was a really dislikable character at times and as the story goes on you see a switch in the roles Lorraine and Angela initially played in each others lives.

One character I have to talk about, because in all honesty, despite not being a main character I think she stole the show. Senga, Angela's "gallus" granny was a typical figure from that time period, fabulous, straight talking, supportive but put you in your place when need be. I will be hitting the author up about any plans for a book on Senga herself and if not I really think she should. If you love books that delve into people from a scheme, with Scottish banter that captures the struggles of that time period, sectarianism, social divide and just trying to follow their dreams rather than the path carved out for a council scheme girl, then you will love this book. If I gave half stars this would be 4.5 for me so it is a 4/5 for me this time, I wasn't sure if the author was going to be able to round it up at the end but she pulled it off and it made me look at the character a little better than I had whilst reading. I think MacKinven is worth a watch and may well become a familiar name amongst authors who portray the Scottish people and times of old with affection and praise. Thanks to the author & ThunderPoint publishing for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy this book from 29th October 2015, Kindle price & paperback from all good retailers.

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  1. I also grew up in the 1980s and I also feel a lot of nostalgia for that time. Thus, this sounds appealing.

    Personally I think that a reader should resist becoming offended by the stuff that you allude to in this book. In my opinion it is a reflection of life.

  2. Oh, perhaps not one for me as whilst I tend to enjoy black humour I admit to being easily offended.

  3. It sounds like something I'd enjoy. Great review.

  4. I’m sure I would enjoy this, and I just love the cover.


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