“There are many jaw-dropping moments. If you pick up this book, expect to be shocked! This is a book that firmly deserves to be defined as a page-turner.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

When it was announced a couple of years ago that Irvine Welsh was releasing a prequel to Trainspotting with Skagboys, it took me back to a different reading age. Trainspotting remains one of my favourite novels and during my younger years I spent a lot of time in Welsh’s world, with Trainspotting, Glue, Maribou Stork Nightmares, Porno and the rest.

The problem was, was I going to be able to just fall back into this universe? I bought the novel to see.

Depressed with his life and wife, Simon Nicholson gets up one fine morning and leaves his wife, Catherine, and his three children, James, Robbie and Emily. It is evident that it’s because of something his wife had done – but what?

Twenty-five years later, he turns up at Catherine’s doorstep to explain to her why he left her and finally give her the closure she fully deserves. But why has he chosen to come back now?

Told alternately from the viewpoints of Simon and Catherine, and alternating between the past and the present; this is a psychologically twisted family drama.

Both Simon and Catherine had come from broken families. Simon’s mother, Doreen, left him and his father, Arthur, for another man; whilst Catherine’s mother never really cared for her. Having a not-so-great childhood themselves, both vowed to not be like their parents and create a loving family. Somewhere early in the story you learn that they had lost a child, Billy. As you’re left to wonder how, Catherine takes the brunt of the guilt and believes it was her fault. Just when she had overcome this grief, Simon decides to walk away.

I disliked Simon form the moment he started unraveling his story. While Catherine was dealing with his disappearance, keeping the family stable and running, and trying to search for him, he was busy being a vagabond. He spent at least the first 4-5 years of his “new life” with people who had no idea who he really was. Nobody judged him, challenged him or bruised him which suited him perfectly. Till he met Luciana and fell in love.

The story progresses into an intense and disturbing chain of events that are triggered by Simon’s selfishness. As he recounts his tale, Catherine couldn’t believe what she was hearing. It was someone she couldn’t recognize. Had it really been in him all along to live without a conscience? How could she have failed to recognize such deceit?

The book poses a lot of questions. One of them is, do our parents shape who we become?

Simon was petrified that everyone would be like Doreen and he strongly believed that ”everything that makes you happy eventually disappoints.” He’d been so hasty to blame everyone else for not living up to the perfection he’d expected from them, yet he was the least perfect of them all.

This book was never predictable and both Simon’s and Catherine’s revelations shock you. The ending was equally harrowing, and only someone who is at the very core a cold-hearted monster can do what he did.

The book wasn’t fast paced as most books of this genre are, but every chapter had a twist.

John Marrs has a way with words – if someone can make you detest a character just based on his writing, that’s saying something about his ability.

How many times have you made an assumption about someone, without discussing it with them? How many times have you drawn a conclusion based on those assumptions and then acted accordingly? You need to read this book to know how assumptions can change the course of one’s life, and everyone associated with it, forever.

 

Reviewed by:

Ranjini Sen

Added 6th September 2017

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