Maggie Munroe Makes for an Emotional Tale
If you’re up for an emotional rollercoaster of a ride through war-time Scotland, “The Making of Maggie Munroe,” is the perfect book for you. Follow the titular heroine through the ups and downs of 1930s/40s Glasgow, in a book of love, loss, and everything in between.
Meet Maggie Munroe, a girl with the strength of Glasgow in her heart and a bunch of men trying to muscle their way into it. They won’t rest until only one has succeeded but, fortunately, she doesn’t suffer fools gladly and can see them coming a mile off – with the help of her intuition, her deid mammy and a Knickerbocker glory.
It is wartime in Maryhill, Glasgow. The city is in turmoil but, throughout it all, its residents struggle for whatever sliver of normalcy they can get. With the support of a boisterous family and steadfast friends, can Maggie navigate 1930s and 40s societal politics in her attempt to find the right path? Her gang includes her unwavering daddy who often cannot see past the end of his nose, an interfering aunt whose biggest belief is in her own opinion and a train wreck girlfriend striving for acceptance, so, when it comes to the four men makin’ a meal o’ it, they are in good company. Still, oor Maggie will not go down without a fight.
Maggie Munroe is a fun, interesting character unlike any I’ve read before. I read little historical fiction, and when I do, it is further back or English courts or similar. So this was an interesting take for me. The life of a working class, Scottish family, viewed from the lens of the titular character – Maggie Munroe. I adored Maggie, and learning about this time in history from her was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
The author weaved a story, showing us life in war-time Glasgow, beautifully. The author depicted the impact of the war, how women were treated, and how soldiers and those who couldn’t go to war were treated through Maggie’s tale. We saw the pressure young men faced, the plight of separated family members, and so much more within the pages of this book. But beyond that, we saw the pure human condition of living. Sometimes, I forget – because our grandparents and parents time seemed so different – I forget they experienced all the same things we did. And our children after us will experience all the same things we did.
Scott built wonderful, complex, beautiful characters. Maggie and her extended family and friends jumped off the pages, as real as life. Because her family was so large, it was difficult to keep them all straight sometimes, but that’s a side effect of such a big family and community. Something I’ve faced with several books lately.
Throughout the book, Scott wrote the dialogue, showing the Scottish accent. I admire her dedication to showing this, and I know it was probably a decision she struggled to make. It’s a decision I’ve struggled with in my writing – whether to show the American South accent. My research showed that it can make reading inaccessible. Having read the entire book like this, I’d have to agree with this, actually. Not being incredibly familiar with the Scottish accent – even though some of my favorite people like David Tennant and Paolo Nutini are Scottish – I had a hard time parsing some sentences. That might turn off less dedicated readers. I still enjoyed the book immensely, but it made it more challenging.
Who’s It For
If you love historical fiction, especially war-time fiction, this book is an absolute must. If you have any interest in Scottish history and fiction, I’d highly recommend this. Those looking for an emotional book, with love, loss, and the full emotional experience, will absolutely love this book. This book is hard to read in some places though, featuring some incredibly sad topics, in my opinion, the war being the least hard one, so take heed of that, and keep it for another day if you’re in a bad emotional place.
Content warning: child death, parent death, war just lots of death, relationship abuse, PTSD
Note: I received a gifted copy of this book as part of Love Books Tours. This has not impacted my review.
About the Author
JJ’s writing is heavily influenced by the places and people she met as a shoestring traveller in her 20s. However, she is no longer in her 20s and her work is pure, unadulterated fiction. Writing across a variety of themes and genres, her first novel grew closer to home than abroad, when her Gran revealed that she had, in fact, been proposed to four times in the 1940s (talk about a plot twist) and had turned them all down! This was far too juicy to let go and inspired JJ to fill in the three big mysterious blanks surrounding a woman who was the best storyteller in Glasgow.
Always ready to be inspired, JJ is salsaing through life with her notepad and pen, waiting for the next idea to hit her in the head. Getting run over by a truck (yes really!) was just a blip. She has earned her stripes as a high school English teacher, spreading her love of literature to unreceptive young minds, and has edited and published the work of emerging writers in Firewords Magazine (firewords.co.uk) which she co-founded with her husband in 2014. Discovering and promoting up-and-coming writers is one of JJ’s great joys, especially after attaining an LLB, PGCE and Msc at university when she became thoroughly aware of the hell that lies in a life full of academia without the bliss of creative freedom. With Puck the Cockapoo in tow, she is determined to grab life by the bindings and make it more than just a palatable cover.
She currently has two novels at editing stage and a first draft mid-meltdown, all of which see strong Scottish characters take on the world. Having been published in Gallivant Journal and the IPSE Freelance Corner, she also has a short story collection in progress based firmly on her backpacking experience and the long stints in Toronto, Canada, which has led her to declare it her spiritual second home. Recently she has replaced air travel with campervan travel but one thing remains certain: no matter what life brings, she’ll never truly leave the world of shoestrings, hostels and writing on the road behind.
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