The Making of Maggie Munroe by JJ Scott | #bookreview #scots | @lovebookstours @JJScottAuthor @FirewordsMag

I’m really pleased to be sharing my review of The Making of Maggie Munroe today. Thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour and to the author for providing a review copy of the book.

About the book

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.

My Thoughts

Maggie is a character I took to heart from when I first met her at the wake (also known as a purvey) for her beloved mum. She’s feisty and strong and always put family first. She has plenty of men interested in her but she’s determined that when she marries, if she marries, it will be for love. What follows is warm hearted portrait of a young woman navigating her way through a troubled time of great upheaval, danger and change as the Second World War impacts every aspect of life for the residents of the city of Glasgow.

The narrative of the book is English while the dialogue is mostly in Scots, Glaswegian dialect to be precise. Now don’t let that put you off if you’re not Scottish. You’ll soon get into the way of it and there aren’t that many words which are totally different. Scots is close enough to English for it to be widely understood even by non-Scots speakers. My daughter is currently finishing off her university dissertation which focusses on the use of Scots language in children’s literature. The main theme of it is how important it is that Scots is recognised as a language in its own right and not seen as inferior to ‘proper English’. I think it’s great that the author has chosen to write the dialogue in Scots as that is exactly how her characters would have spoken.

It’s touching that the story is inspired by stories the author heard from her own grandmother. She explains how using the language her grandmother used was so important to her to make the voices authentic. I think her gran would have been proud of her.

The Making of Maggie Munroe is a book full of difficulties, challenges and pressures for its eponymous main character. That makes it sound like it’s going to be a hard-going read and there’s no doubt that some big themes are tackled. It’s not though – this book is a celebration of family, friendship, perseverance and one very independent and strong-minded heroine.

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 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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