The novel begins promisingly enough – David, a newspaper editor is forced into early retirement in the run up to the independence referendum as his political views are at odds with the proprietors’ and rather than leave it unmarked his wife Caroline calls their grown up family of three daughters home to celebrate Christmas, New Year and the retirement bash for former colleagues.
Fortune is a gentrified village outside of Edinburgh that serves as a metaphor of good luck gone bad as the veneer of success that most people present to the world is gradually peeled back to reveal the sometimes rotten core beneath. Most of the characters are well fleshed out and the situations are believable but there are some characters with story-lines that could/should have been axed out as there seems no real reason for them to be there unless the novel was written with a glittering eye on TV rights. It would make a good three-parter serial I think and the peripheral characters would add something here but in the context of the novel itself they were extraneous in my opinion.
The one character I was eager to find out more about was the young boy Jamie who is experiencing bullying on a modern persistent scale. Seeing this type of behaviour and its aftermath first hand makes me despair in real life so the way this bit of the novel is written is very true to life.
Unfortunately the political side of the novel promised at the start slips away and the story gets bogged down in the family dynamic as truths are revealed so an original idea becomes like so many other novels. Of course it could be that the problems of David and Caroline’s marriage are symbolic of the union of Scotland and England and the decision about whether to separate something which has worked for a long time, even though it has had problems and lacks passion, could be allegorical. Kirsty Scott’s intention could well have been to allow a synthesis of the underlying story elements to discover its true “meaning.” If so, I missed that as I was reading but considered the possibility afterwards.
This aside, the novel is a good read and there is the occasional bit of writing that sears into the brain and for that alone, I’d recommend it.