24 Jan She, You, I by Sally Keeble
This multi-generational story explores the vulnerability and strength of women bound by family
In 1944, young Scots teenager Maisie joins the WAAF, swapping a life of violence and poverty in Glasgow’s slums for a glimpse of a more privileged society when she makes friends with upper-class Connie.
She never returns to Glasgow, where her mother still survives in her abusive marriage, instead marrying one of the young men she meets through her wartime service and making a new life for herself down south.
In due course, two daughters come along, then a granddaughter, and the story of their own and Maisie’s life is told through their different eyes.
Maisie is the “She” of the title, and her story is told in the third person.
“You” is Isla, Maisie’s younger daughter, whom we see through the eyes of Julia, her older sister.
“I” is Skye, Isla’s daughter, who brings the story to the present day and exemplifies how family secrets and tragedies reverberate down the generations, to affect every member, past and present.
This is a very thoughtful, incisive story in which the three parts merge beautifully together.
The prose is tight, sometimes almost laconic, yet nevertheless presents the reader with a full and satisfactory feeling of time and place, whether we’re with young Maisie, cowering from her father’s wrath in a Glasgow tenement, or an older Julia, running a successful wedding dress business in the Home Counties, or a bemused Skye, standing on the pier underneath Edinburgh’s famous rail bridge, reflecting on her Scottish heritage.
Her mother, her aunt, her grandmother, even her great-grandmother, is each fascinating in her own right. All are empathetic characters, dealing with the challenges that life throws at them with fortitude and good grace.
And there are plenty challenges!
The theme of violence – both domestic and on the grander scale of war – is sensitively explored, but it’s the importance of family relationships that really underpin this story, be it between husband and wife, mother and daughter, father and daughter, or sisters.
Sensitive, subtle and very engaging, this was a story I could not put down.
About the Author
Sally writes about the things she’s passionate about—the triumphs and tragedies of people’s lives, their families and life stories. She spent her early years in the USA, Switzerland and Australia, returning to the UK after working as a journalist in South Africa. After serving as an MP, she worked in international development and travelled widely, especially in Africa and South Asia.
She, You, I is her first novel.
Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blogtour and to publishers Eleanor Books for the copy of the book.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster