Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart @douglas_D_Stuart @picadorbooks #ShuggieBain #DouglasStuart #PrizeWinningFiction #TheClqrt #BookReview #BookBlog #RecommendedReading

Picador Books 2020

Book Description

Agnes Bain had always expected more. In the Glasgow of the early 80s, she dreamed of greater things: a house with its own front door, a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect – but false – teeth). When her philandering husband ups and leaves, she and her three children find themselves trapped in a mining town decimated by Thatcherism. As Agnes increasingly turns to alcohol for comfort, her children try their best to save her. Yet one by one they abandon her in order to save themselves.

It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. But Shuggie has problems of his own: despite all his efforts to pass as a normal boy, everyone has started to realise that Shuggie is ‘no right’. Agnes wants to be there for her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her – even her beloved Shuggie.

My Thoughts

Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize this highly acclaimed debut novel has been sat on my TBR shelf for a while now. Prompted by Clair who blogs at Always Need More Books we agreed to buddy read along with another friend over on Instagram. Compelling from the start this book was very readable, which I must confess hasn’t always been my experience with Booker Prize Winners. A hard hitting read with themes of alcoholism, family breakup and poverty central to the storyline.

We first meet Shuggie as the book opens, alone in a bedsit, at only 17 life feels hard as Shuggie stuggles financially and trying to complete his educations. His aloneness feels tangible and this is a theme of the book as we go back to his early years. Living with his mother we learn of her ongoing battles with alcohol, her addiction worsening over the years and serving to alienate her and her children.

The book is eye opening, set mostly in the 1980s the read is hard hitting and I felt shocked that Shuggie was left with his mother living the life they did – he largely neglected, but caring for the mother he loved enormously. This is a moving read, sad in places of course but with many tender and special moments that served to illustrate the love the boy had for his mother. There were moments I found myself wishing for a saviour, someone to step up for Shuggie Bain but equally I appreciated the authors willingness to write such a novel, authentic I think in its harshness.

The story begins, as I mentioned previously when Shuggie is 17, it then goes back to his childhood and progresses chronologically. Told in the third person narrative, Shuggie’s experiences are palpable and aspects of the story were so vivid, I could visualise the scene. A book that has sat on my shelf for too long, I knew what the book was about, after all this book has generated a lot of hype. However I was surprised how accessible this book was, despite its difficult themes it was not a hard book to read. Worthy of the hype and definitely a book I would recommend.

About the Author

Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, he moved to New York City, where he began a career in fashion design. His work has appeared in the New Yorker and on Lit Hub. Shuggie Bain is his first novel.

2 thoughts on “Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart @douglas_D_Stuart @picadorbooks #ShuggieBain #DouglasStuart #PrizeWinningFiction #TheClqrt #BookReview #BookBlog #RecommendedReading

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