Reading group

West Coast by Kate Muir

By Hephzibah Anderson for MailOnline

(Headline Review, £6.99)
kate muir

Fergus MacFarlane, a hip and successful photographer at the centre of the Brit Art boom, appears to have it all: a beautiful, Titian-haired wife, two perfect children and a sprawling house with a pillared front door and double-height windows in one of London’s posher neighbourhoods.

But it hasn’t always been thus, and when his charmed life suddenly begins to unravel, the novel winds back to his impoverished childhood and moody adolescence in a small fishing village on Scotland’s west coast. After his fisherman father drowns at sea, Fergus learns from others in the village about girls, drinking and, by luck, photography. One night, something happens that forces him to flee Scotland for an uncertain life south of the border – a move which eventually brings him fame and fortune after a sleazy start. But how far and for how long can he run from his past?

Spanning 30 years, the novel is not just the story of a haggis-to-riches talented opportunist, but a wry and informed portrait of modern Britain, criss-crossing the divides of class, wealth and location. Its appeal is enhanced by evocative, period-defining detail, from Babycham and Pet Rocks to Leo Sayer songs and shagpile carpets.

You can buy West Coast for just £3.50, plus 99p delivery. To order, call 0845 155 0711, or visit, where you can read an extract and find suggested topics for discussion. Author Kate Muir has also written an exclusive commentary for us about her book. You can also order from the YOU Bookshop, Parc Menai, Bangor LL57 4FB, making cheques payable to YOU Bookshop.

Don’t forget to go to the message board at our website to tell us what you thought of last month’s choice, The Scandal of the Season by Sophie Gee, which is still available at half the normal price. As well as the message board and our monthly book choice, there are listings of reading groups in your area, plus money-off deals on a range of great titles.
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