by Jeremy Hilton
Aysha, a very troubled and damaged girl in the care system and approaching adolescence, is befriended by Katy, a university student, and her dog Greg. As the relationship develops, Aysha’s two half-sisters and members of Katy’s extended family become part of the narrative, and in a remote cottage in the west of Scotland, an ex-alcoholic retired teacher leading a semi-reclusive existence receives a letter which will change his life for ever, and will ultimately have a profound impact on the lives of everyone in the novel.
The story is centred mainly in two fictional towns, a large university town in the North Midlands, and a medium-sized industrial town near Manchester, but also branches out to the west of Scotland, the Scottish islands, the Isles of Scilly, Glasgow, and a few other places. Music concerts, ferry-crossings, wildlife observations, mountaineering, and activities with dogs, add variety to the family dramas. And towards the end, a voluntary worker in Glasgow’s red-light district, becomes an important addition to the book’s characters.
Told in the third-person throughout, the developing narrative is seen through the eyes and minds of all the main protagonists at different times, so that a fuller perspective can be achieved by the reader with little or no authorial intervention.
This is a soul-searching, heart-wrenching psychological story which addresses a range of social issues, but at the core of the narrative are Aysha and Katy and their unusual friendship.
Paperback: £9.99 free p&p; add £3.95 outside UK