Friday, June 1, 2018

Book Review: 'Small Change' by Keddie Hughes

Scottish author Keddie Hughes, born in Glasgow, has enjoyed a successful career as a psychologist – advising and coaching international organizations on personnel management. She now lives in Buckinghamshire outside London and has turned her attention to writing, incorporating her skills as psychologist to create characters with problems and how they cope with them. AN OBSTINATE VANITY was her debut novel, and now she presents SMALL CHANGE.

In this story Keddie addresses one woman’s personal transformation with the insights as only a professional psychologist of her nature could offer. Keddie’s main character, whom we discover in the first paragraphs of this rich book, presents hints of the trials ahead: ‘4:40 p.m. His file was marked “Urgent”. Izzy took a deep breath and prepared herself for bad news. Redundancy from a plumbing agency, job allowance stopped following missed appointments and housing benefit about to be cut. The welfare system was like a set of dominoes, when one fell, the others soon came clattering down. She sighed and reminded herself that giving up was not an option; whatever help she could offer her clients, whatever small change they could make to improve their circumstances, was cause for hope. Connor Docherty was forty-two years old, lived in the East End of Glasgow and was married, with one son, deceased, aged seventeen. Izzy had been trained not to make assumptions about people, but she couldn’t help thinking that this terrible event had probably triggered his decline. His son had been the same age as Davy. She gazed into space. Davy was now six feet tall with a tousle of blue-black hair. Pride bloomed in her chest, followed by a dull ache. He was hoping to go to university next year and the time was fast approaching for her to admit defeat in the unwinnable war of keeping him young.’

Writing of this quality is usually encountered in seasoned writers but here it is in a fine second novel. Keddie supplies a fine synopsis: ‘An unsolved murder, a marriage at breaking point and a football club in crisis collide into one woman’s life in this dramatic new novel, set against political upheaval in Glasgow in 2011. Forty-two-year-old Izzy Campbell wants more from life than a husband who is a fanatical Glasgow Rangers football supporter and a borderline alcoholic. She has always put her family’s needs first, but with her son turning eighteen she decides it’s time things change. Izzy volunteers at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and enrolls for a part-time degree in Social Sciences, and when she encounters a charismatic journalist, Sean Docherty who is investigating alleged financial mismanagement at Rangers, she finds herself offering to help. Before she knows it, she is drawn into the excitement of political activism and the arms of an attractive man. Her loyalties are further tested when she discovers her husband’s part in the murder of a young fan from Rangers’ arch enemy – Celtic. The choices Izzy makes will determine the future of her life.’

Enough said. Welcome a new and very talented author to watch. Grady Harp, May 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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