The Tin Kin, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)

Description

When her aunt Shirley dies, Dawn finds herself back in her claustrophobic home town in Northern Scotland for the first time in years.

She spends her days caring for her small daughter, listening to tapes of old country songs and cleaning Shirley's flat, until one day she comes across the key to a cupboard that she was forbidden to open as a child.

Inside she finds an album of photographs, curling with age, shows a traveller community in the 1950s.

A young couple pose on a beach, arms wrapped around each other; little girls in hand-me-down kilts reveal toothless smiles; and, an old woman rests her hands on her hips, her head thrown back in blurry laughter.

But why has her aunt treasured these pictures secretly for so long?

Dawn's need for answers leads her to a group of Travellers on the outskirts of Elgin.

There she learns of a young man left to die on the floor of a cell, and realises that the story of her family is about to be rewritten...

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4

Nine pages in, this novel went all Trainspotting on me. The terrain seemed easy and then suddenly I found myself needing a sturdy pair of walking boots. Dialect, thick thick dialect, describing events I couldn’t follow. I was nervous that I wasn’t going to like or understand it, but all was well in the end.Despite my misgivings, I would have to say the voice throughout was spot on. And I’ll spare the rant over absent speech marks, though it’s not a style I like. The whole thing had a windswept, slightly numb feel to it. The voices of the historical characters were excellent – gradations in dialect, the way personalities were revealed, one felt immersed in the culture of the traveller community at that time. I am sure the author had done her homework, but even if she hadn’t I would have believed this account, so rich in detail was the prose. I was surprised how early the central secret came out. There seemed little left to reveal – mostly things I had worked out. There were cleverly dropped clues along the way, meaning the reader could join the dots; what remained at the end was personality time and atmospherics. I really felt as though I was inhabiting a 3D world. A glossary might have helped with the early stages, though finding one’s way through the dialect chapters unaided does give the reader a sense of achievement.

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