Friday, March 09, 2007

Andrea MacPherson's "Beyond the Blue"

Earlier this week on the Page 69 Test: Andrea MacPherson’s Beyond the Blue.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a Scottish mill town purged of men by war, four unforgettable women navigate a treacherous time, guided only by the bonds of family and their bold dreams of escape.

In 1918, rainy Dundee is nearly emptied of men. The Great War has left the town’s women both newfound freedom and servitude. They toil in the deadly jute mills, taking in the children of perished family members and praying their own bodies – and spirits – do not fail them too.

A grateful widow of the war, Morag shelters her daughters as best she can: beautiful Caro schemes to escape the working class with well-calculated seduction, while Wallis works in the mill alongside her mother, slowly fortifying both spirit and pocketbook for a more radical departure. Morag’s orphaned niece, Imogen, seeks to understand her fragile mother’s death, and the return of the father who abandoned them.

Infused with the longing, courage and passion of its indelible cast of characters, and steeped in the faith and terrors of its time – from the suffragettes and the Easter Uprising to the influenza pandemic and the Tay Bridge disaster – Beyond the Blue is a lyrical, reflective novel about finding purpose and freedom in a place without hope.
Read an excerpt from Beyond the Blue.

Among the praise for Beyond the Blue:
"A compelling and important story of First Word War Scotland, a time when women redefined the word hope as the world was losing its innocence. Andrea MacPherson writes beautifully, balancing the lives of her characters between history and the poetry of gesture, secrets and love."
–Ami McKay, author of The Birth House

"Andrea MacPherson writes with compassion and honesty of women working in the jute factories of Dundee during WWI, who toil beneath ‘the foolish secrets of women.’ This beautiful novel, written in lyrical, strong prose, is a compelling, clear-eyed account of what constitutes hope and bravery, not only in the lives of mill workers, but in any life distorted by false memories and illusory dreams."
–Beth Powning, author of The Hatbox Letters

I can’t imagine that any contemporary writer has done a better job of evoking the gray hopelessness of early 20th century urban Scotland, a time so dreadful that vestiges of it all are still being cleared from many of the important centers.... At the end of Beyond the Blue and upon reflection, one discovers that MacPherson’s lyrical metaphors have followed us home.
Linda L. Richards, January Magazine
Subscribers to the Vancouver Sun and the Globe & Mail should have access to additional reviews.

Beyond the Blue is Andrea MacPherson's fourth book and second novel. Learn more about her work at her official website.

--Marshal Zeringue