Turn Again Home, Paperback
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Gorton, Manchester. 1930. Greyhound racing at Belle Vue, the buses going up and down Hyde Road, the siren of Peacock's foundry going off every night at six.

This is Bessie and Sam Holloway's place, home for Nell and little brother Bobby and older step-child Violet.

Precious visits from Dad's sister Benny, a Queen of the music hall trailing clouds of glory and whisky, provide infrequent brushes with glamour. 'Alright for some,' grunts Bessie. Nell grows up to work in a factory and there, from the tailgate of a truck in the yard, she first hears fellow factory worker Harry Caplin play trombone break on the old jazz classic, Clarinet Marmalade.

Harry's talent will take him far and introduce him to such jazz legends as Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden; but not as far as poor feckless Bobby, who finds himself fighting in the jungles of Malaya.

Spanning the twentieth century, this is a poignant story about a brother and a sister and three generations of a northern working-class family.




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Another vivid, nostalgic and emotional novel from Carol Birch. 'Turn Again Home' is the story of three generations of a Lancashire family, yet it is never overly maudlin or saccharine like those other regional novels called 'Our Lass' that women of a certain age like to read! Instead of cliches and stereotypes, the author skilfully weaves together the lives of Sam and Bessie, Harry and Nell, and their children and grandchildren, from their youth and courtships - Bessie during the First World War, her daughter Nelly in the Second - through parenthood to old age. The dialogue and descriptions are so real and familiar that it's as if Carol Birch has acquired a handful of private diaries and merely written them up into a novel. Perhaps it's a northern thing, although I'm on the wrong side of the Pennines and three generations removed from the characters' lives, but nearly every scene and every line spoken had personal associations for me, and relating to the reader is the most powerful effect of good fiction.Funny, sad, reassuring and cynical, this is an extended vignette of daily life through the years - not a lot happens, compared to the dramatic twists and turns of most modern fiction, but it is never boring. The characters are fully rounded, with their strengths and weaknesses as viewed through the eyes of family and friends, and the experiences that shape them are shared with subtle understanding.

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