Thursday, 23 January 2014

A Kettle of Fish by Ali Bacon

Reviewer : Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter (

What we thought : It was a move from the norm for me to read this novel of the gritty teenage life of lead character, Ailsa, and her ‘Coming of Age’ story.

Ailsa is a typical teenager when the book opens, real and likable in her own way, with the endearing quality of admittedly not knowing her own mind from one day to the next. Does she want a Uni life, does she want a fiance? Can she leave her secretive, demanding mother to start her own life, or should she stick with what she knows and settle down as a shopworker.

I found Ailsa a difficult character to connect with, but that doesn't mean I didn't find her completely true to life. I'm pretty sure I'd have trouble connecting with teenagers in real life, so that only added to the realism. As a reader, we roll our eyes and tut as she makes one bad decision after another, but secretively cross our fingers and hope for a happy ending. As a mystery buff, the grey mist that hangs over Ailsa's past, the story of her father, and the resolution of her own demons, were all things that kept me hooked right to the unexpected ending.

The quality of the writing was top class. Wonderful settings, from rural Scotland to the bustle of Edinburgh, that brought to life the story, led by strong, realistic characters and superb dialogue gave an effortless reading experience.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish and would have no hesitation in recommending it.

You’ll enjoy this if you like : Katie Fforde, Kate Morton, Donna Tartt .

Avoid if you don’t like : Troubled teenagers, fish and Scotland (yes, there is a pattern forming!)

Ideal accompaniments : A bottle of Irn-Bru, white cider(or the latest cool drink with youngsters) and a McDonalds.

Genre : Contemporary


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