Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart is set in 1980’s Glasgow. The background of poverty, unemployment, run down housing estates and life on benefits, as mines and shipyards close, is brilliantly drawn and the group appreciated the writing style. This is the story of Shuggie and his alcoholic mother. One by one, Shuggie’s philandering father and two older siblings leave and Shuggie, a pre-teen and young teenager, is left caring for his mother. His love for his mother is intense, he watches over her through her worst drinking bouts, trying to hide small amounts of benefit money for food before it is all spent on drink.
Clearly this story is a tough read and there is little hope, especially since the end is shown in chapter one. Whilst it could not be described as enjoyable, the group was evenly split between those who were pleased to have read the book and those who were unable to finish it.
Our future reading list is as follows:
July – Capital by John Lanchester
August – A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry
September – Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
October – The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale