Ruby - by Meg Henderson

Murals on a Glasgow wall bring back painful memories

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Book review: Ruby

Ruby and her family try to live through hard times and avoid scandal

‘Ruby’ - by Meg Henderson (Black & White Publishing (15 Sept. 2011))

Hand-painted murals are uncovered by workmen renovating some old tenement flats on the High Street in Glasgow. Ruby is invited to see again these murals that were created by her Uncle Jakey when she was a little girl. She could still remember clearly sitting and watching her Uncle Jakey creating these artistic wonders on the old walls.

This triggers memories of her past and it all comes flooding back. Painful memories that had been hidden away. Secrets that her family had tried to keep under wraps over the years before and after the Second World War. Ruby takes you back to those days, telling the sad but sometimes funny stories of her family and friends.

Meg Henderson has created some very believable characters that you and I can relate to. We must have some members of our families just like some of these imperfect, weird, daft characters in this book.

But for me, two characters shine forth; Cissie and Dot, Ruby’s two aunties. Her aunties cared not one jot for the feelings of their relatives and called a spade a spade. Armed with a bag of rationed sweeties, munching away, they embarked on character assassination, even when the object of their derision was in the same room.

If I were Meg Henderson’s agent, I’d ask her to consider writing a TV sitcom about Cissie and Dot, give them a new lease of life. What a cracking TV sitcom that would make!

If you’re looking for an action-packed book, this is not it. If you’re looking for a soppy romance, forget it. But if you’re looking for a well-crafted story about a family living and working in Glasgow who are trying desperately to come to terms with tragedy and scandal, then you will enjoy this book.

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