Thursday 19 July 2018

Review ~ Call Billy by Sam McColl

May 2018
Call Billy is partly funded by a New Writers’ Bursary from the Scottish Arts Council.

My thanks to Cameron Publicity and Marketing for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

Edinburgh is meant to be a new start for the Gillespie family. Rachel has enrolled as a mature student at the university, while Andrew is spending more time with the kids. But Rachel’s ‘new start’ morphs into ‘new affair’ with fellow student Ryan. Or is it Stevie? 

Either way, her lover is not what he seems. When his past surfaces in the guise of a name on Rachel’s library ticket, the affair turns nasty. And then her teenage daughter unwittingly discovers the deceit and the family begins its spin into free fall.

My thoughts about it...

Rachel and Andrew Gillespie have recently moved from Oban to Edinburgh with their teenage children, ostensibly to make a new start. Rachel has enrolled as a mature student at the university where she embarks upon an affair with another student, whilst Andrew is left to spend more time with their children. Call Billy is an intriguing story which doesn't shy away from showing the difficulties which send the Gillespie family into a downward spiral, which then threatens the future stability of them all. 

The story gets off to a slow start, which I think is deliberate, as it gives us a chance to get to know the characters and to find out what makes them tick. And finding out what makes them act in the way that they do is a major part of the story. They're an odd bunch, to be sure, and it took me ages to warm to any of them, but as the story gets more involved, so I started to connect better with what was happening on the page. I'm being deliberately vague about what was going on, as to say too much would be to  spoil the overall drama of Call Billy which, to be honest, is best read with no spoilers from me.

I liked the author's writing style, which is sharp and sassy, and the Scottish vernacular gives the story an authenticity of speech which is helpful as it places the novel firmly in the here and now. There's an gritty edginess to Call Billy which I appreciated, and whilst it's not always an easy read, I admire the way in which the author has allowed the story to evolve at its own distinct pace.

I'm pleased to say that there are plans for the story to be continued...

Sam McColl was born into a family hushed by the threat of violence. Orphaned at 12, unable to grieve or understand her stolen childhood, she continued to recreate it - until she got help.

Since then she has worked with young people and addicts, and those who have had a rough time of it.

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