A Small Town Affair by Rosie Wallace. Published by Hachette Scotland at £12.99.
Hot off the press comes this debut novel, a glorious piece of chicklit, from political wife Rosie Wallace. Married to former isles MP Jim Wallace (later Orkney MSP and now in the House of Lords), the author is well-placed to write a story revolving round an MP’s family.
Newcomers to the small town near Edinburgh, the family, their new friends and neighbours quickly become caught up in events which rock the community and will keep the gossips going for decades.
Wallace lifts the lid on various respectable families and piles on the pressure as the goings-on in the curtain-twitching close community become public, with the “awful tabloids” adding fuel to the fire.
The book, set in the present day, opens in the confines of a mother and toddler group, and we quickly have the sense, both here and in the domestic scenes, of the boredom and limitations of family life.
The initial seduction which triggers most of the subsequent events is less than convincing in these politically correct times, but this is quickly forgotten in the speed of subsequent shocks. These are all well-handled and Wallace manages to make the biggest one of all believable.
The book is well-written throughout – with lots of four-letter words – and the fall-out from the revelations is totally understandable. Life will never be the same for the people involved and each of those affected, whether innocent or guilty, suffers and tries to come to terms with their new situation.
The role of the tabloid press is realistically portrayed but the fairy godmother, who appears from nowhere to help many of the characters (some more deserving than others) at opportune moments is the stuff of dreams. Life is rarely like that and, annoyingly, she leaves one needy elderly woman to the mercy of the local council.
In spite of that the book is great entertainment. Easy to read and interesting, touching as it does on the subjects of politics, religion, learning difficulties and sex (without being explicit), it keeps the action going and is a real page-turner.