Like many cracking women, Maggie has a habit of attracting God-awful men. Add to that the societal politics of 1930/40s wartime Glasgow… but she won’t go down without a fight. With too many marriage proposals – an elderly uncle, a suave womaniser and a volatile obsessive – she must deal with the fallout while trying to remain sane.
Both poignant and humorous, this novel is centred around family and friendships, and includes many vibrant characters who encapsulate the spirit of Maryhill. From an interfering aunt whose biggest belief is in her own opinion to a train wreck girlfriend striving for acceptance, a petulant cousin and an uncle who suffers setbacks each time he tries to take his head out the bottle, the saying ‘People make Glasgow’ holds true; so, when it comes to the four men makin’ a meal o’ it, let’s hope Maggie finds a good one.
“Ye did whit?” Jess was incredulous.
“Sssshh. Keep yer voice doon.”
Stopping still in the middle of the path, her cousin’s eyes were so wide that the whites ran thick and her nostrils flared.
“Ah cannae believe it! And we shouldnae be discussin’ ony o’ this oan a Sunday! Ye’re gaun straight tae hell, Maggie, and takin’ me wae ye.”
In Maggie’s opinion, she was grossly exaggerating.
“There’s nae need tae lecture me. Listen, ah jist hae tae get this oot affore Rachel gets here.”
Jess shifted position uncomfortably. “Can we no jist wait fir her?”
“It’s like Davie wis telling Minnie yon time - dinnae empty yer mooth tae fill someone elses.”
“Ooo. But Maggie, hen, ah hate tae say it but ah’m someone else yer fillin.”
“Naw yer no’. Yer family.”
It was a relief to share but some things were hard to put into words, like the way he had touched her and the warmth she had felt even when she knew she ought to be screaming bloody murder. On a see-saw of shock and satisfaction, she could not decide if she had gone too far or not far enough.
As usual, the Munroes, Bennies and Menzies’s had met for a Sunday stroll through the Botanic Gardens. Arthur, Agnes, Jimmy and Big Stevie were the grown-ups at the front, while Stevie, Olivia and Wee Ena pushed and shoved their way behind in their Sunday bests. Jess and Maggie had been trailing at the rear for a while but soon their luck would run out.
Maggie looked around to make sure they were alone. It was an overcast day in mid-September and the air was warm and threatening thunder. The whole place was abuzz. Workers from the docks cut a fine sight with their families, pressed clean despite the pressing storm clouds gurgling overhead, lecturers who taught just a few blocks away within the cloisters of the University contemplated the beauty around them whilst nursing hangovers of their own, and aristocrats ambled arm and arm while their nannies kept apace behind them. A calm had settled over the city. There was still the talk of war, audible in every passing conversation; of dreaded air raid shelters in the back greens and barrage balloons in the playgrounds, of political strategy and the unknown duration of conflict, but church had left everyone in a precarious state of peace.
Most importantly, no one was near enough to hear them talk. Steeling herself, she kept her voice low.
“Ah think ah made it sound worse than it wis, really. Aye, we were up the lane, and aye, his hands were wandering, but ayeways oan top. Ah think.”
She had awoken that morning with a cracking headache but a clear memory, although memory loss would have been preferable to the uncomfortable flashbacks that came hurtling at her through an alcoholic haze. Slowly, she began to recount the whole tale. Once she started, she could not stop describing each insidious touch and, try as she might, she could not pretend that it had all been bad. Unbidden, her lips curled into a smile. This dangerous undercurrent was not lost on Jess, who was unable to contain herself with sporadic interruptions of, “He did whit?” and “Yer kidding me oan,” and, “Yer filthy, Maggie Munroe.”
“And that’s how ah came tae be the lassie o' Tommy Gunn,” she finished. “It's official, he's my beau and there's nothin’ ah can dae aboot it wae oot condemnin’ masel' as a filthy wee slut.”