I’ve been looking forward to Emma Grae’s Be Guid tae yer Mammy for a long time; I follow Emma on Twitter and watching her publishing journey has been so amazing, and I’m so happy for where she is now!
Be Guid tae Yer Mammy is far from a glamorous tale, but it’s a deeply relatable one. It tells the story of Jeannie and her brood, who are all neighbours in the fictional Glaswegian town of Thistlegate. Jeannie’s daughters Cathy, Sandra, and Stella-Marie are all grown up with their own children, spouses, and dramas; the first two daughters see the third as an outcast, only good for cleaning for them, and often ignore her and belittle her health problems. Tensions are fraught after some bitchy Facebook posts, and Stella-Marie, her husband, and her two daughters Kate and Isla cut contact with their family. Everyone in Glasgow has some kind of family dynamic like the ones seen in Grae’s debut novel, so it will act as a deeply engaging story for anyone in the area.
Kate and Isla, despite their massive differences, were both characters I could see not only myself as but also my sisters and a lot of other girls I know. Kate is the most different from her family – she pursued higher education at university and doesn’t speak in Scots like everyone else does. She’s ambitious and creative, and these qualities are largely lost on her family members. Isla, on the other hand, is a strong and easy-going social butterfly who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and her family. There are tensions in the sisters as they are intrinsically different, but they are brought together by a solid love and understanding of one another, and also for their mother, who they feel passionately sympathetic for.
All of the voices and stories in the book are so varied, which makes for some really fun reading. Despite how rough and cold Jeannie can be, she does inspire sympathy when you realise that she is a victim of her time: she had her one chance at stardom as a young woman from a Glaswegian working class background, and when she couldn’t make it, she married a man who she often got along with, and often hated. Soon she was fully bound to him by their three children, and any dreams of escaping her tedious life were fizzled.
Overall, Be Guid to Yer Mammy is a lot of fun, but it’s also so affective and sweet and devastating. You really feel the exhaustion Stella-Marie is going through as she simply cannot seem to break through to her sisters – for all her trying and then for all her lack of trying, there’s no winning. What’s more – Emma displays so much passion in her stories, her writing, and the Scots language and it’s so hard not to be sucked into her pull. She takes a lot of real inspiration from her own family, and her old black and white or sepia photos posted to Twitter are such a treat! There’s so much passion and love in this story – she’s a breath of fresh air and her debut novel champions female relationships without holding back; she doesn’t shy away from the ugly bits at all. I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity to read this book, and I’m thrilled to now have my own paperback edition of this novel. Emma Grae is one to look out for – find her on Twitter, Instagram and her Unbound profile.
Be Guid Tae Yer Mammy is out now and can be purchased here. This link is affiliated.
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