3.5 stars Really liked the first part Preferred reading from Clares perspective over Letitias. November , And Sixteen Year Old Clare Is Travelling From Glasgow To Florence With Her Older Brother Danny To Be A Part Of The Anti Capitalist Demo Amidst The Crowds They Meet Julian And Letitia, Two Alluring And Seductive Anti Capitalists From Down South Over The Next Few Years The Lives Of Danny, Clare, Letitia And Julian Become Impossibly Entangled In The Personal And The Political As Each Decides What Is And What S Not Worth Shouting About But How Will They Come To Shape The World And How Will The World Come To Shape Them A book about an anti Iraq War demonstration and yet it turns into being about two spoiled brattish Trustafarians and their love life The demonstration itself gets few words, despite it being a visually rich texture to describe something I ve done in my own book on political protest But with this book, the key issue is shown not to be the ethics of a government going to war over the objections of its populace, but a dreadlocked girl being pregnant by a man she no longer loves Dreadful, indulgent and manages to miss its own point, which is some kind of achievement. i m not so sure what to make of this I read it easily in one night, though it wasn t that flimsy I liked the Scottish voice of the narrators, though it certainly wasn t the difficult complete dialect immersion of, say, Irvine Welsh It felt, as it was, that it was written by someone who didn t speak that langauge, for other people who don t speak that language.My mixed feelings come from what happens our narrator Claire, a 16 year old readhead from a working class Glasgow family travels to Spain for an anti war protest There s a typically skeezy lefty guy dreadlocks, piercing blue eyes, arrogance, ruling class background and all She s fascinated and confused He sleeps with her, rapes her, and they sleep together again Then she gets kicked out of his room for his ruling class ex girlfriend Who has finally decided she wants him rather than our narrator s older brother Who is pretty much an annoyingly idealised good hearted emotionally uncommunicative working class lad who can do no wrong Except for leaving his teenage sister alone with his clearly lecherous friend But no one ever mentions that Claire s state was portrayed well her mix of feeling flattered, confused, hurt, excited and repulsed when sleazey hippy dude wants to play out his Henry Miller fantasies out on her Yes, really He s almost a cartoon villain sleazey activist man except quite possibly drawn from life But the political setting wasn t so real For a start, what are their politics The rapist yells at a French communist for betraying us in the Spanish civil war, but then sneers at some anarchists, so I guess they re maybe some kind of Trotskyites They don t really talk about politics beyond some fairly common level anti war sentiments and a couple of anthemic drunken mass singalongs This isn t so important I wasn t looking for political diatribes and usually find them grating coming out of the fictional mouths of fictional characters It s that the rhythms of their lives didn t seem like those of people heavily involved in a political group, like the characters were meant to be Hey, two coachloads of people travel from Glasgow but our protagonists stay alone in a small pensionne, not a big cold warehouse of all crammed into a hostel together I also can t work out whether the tensions between Claire and her Muslim best friend over her decision to wear hijab is clumsily issue based or not Her friend s mock traslation of her Punjabi placard Dreadlocks and hijab against war was cute though. The amazing thing about this was that I bought it in Shetland in 2006 and read it on the ferry back to Orkney never knew a 6 hour ferry journey pass so fast And then, the sense of the BB in Florence, the rooms the bed the sex and the dreds the doubt and confusion stayed with me ever since I only needed to look at the book to remember that, although I couldn t remember much else except the likeableness of the heroine, Clare.Re reading, it was as if I d never read the second part I obviously had and although Laetitia is for me a far less likeable character it does all come together in as long term satisfactory manner as is reasonable Not being at all political that aspect was alien but I could see how it mattered.
Alison Miller grew up in Orkney and now lives in Glasgow She worked for the WEA Workers Educational Association in an adult education project in Castlemilk, Glasgow, and recently co ordinated the counselling and group work service in the Centre for Women s Health.In 2003 she graduated with Distinction from the M.Phil in Creative Writing run by Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities Now, as
- Alison Miller
- 05 May 2019 Alison Miller