Friday, 20 March 2015

Book Review: Brass by Helen Walsh [contains spoilers]

My very first book review:    Brass by Helen Walsh


Image result for brass by helen walsh
Great artwork if a bit saucy! 
I was put onto this book by a pal at work, she recommended it "you'll get it being Scouse and won't be offended by the swearing and depravity"!

She was right on the one score, what I enjoyed most about the book was the dialect, set in a time of my youth in Liverpool. I could slip back and could hear the young lads I used to know acting all the big 'I am' talking rubbish mostly.... "kinel girl, what ya going on with yerself for"  "see ya at Sevvie at six bells" "come 'ead"... but my absolute favourite and I was 'made-up' (that's my own Scouse to add in); was when Sean called Millie a "meff"... BRILLIANT!

Millie, I just didn't get on with her, sure yes, her Ma left suddenly when she was finishing her A Levels, hard times and all that (my heart bleeds), but really, she was heading to the State at 13 making a nuisance of herself long before the big 'tragedy' (of her Ma leaving).  Jamie summed her up, and this is probably my take too. Jamie seemed bright, he read big literature, why you wonder didn't he go to University?  Because like loads of local kids born in rough areas (and this isn't just Toxteth, my opinion is Toxteth is the nicer of the rougher areas), there simply wasn't opportunity, going to school, getting your GCSEs, staying on for A Levels, for lads like Jamie, it wasn't the done thing.  Peer pressure to bunk off, mess round, not be bothered is easy to fall in with, when all your mates are doing the same.  So Jamie resented Millie's opportunity big time, she was wasting it, she didn't apply herself, because she wanted to rough it for a bit, he exasperated "at the end of the day what's she trying to prove". 

The seedy element was hard to read, when she contracted gonorrhoea, I was glad to be honest, might settle her down a bit.  Is it a myth that hookers/brass/prostitutes/tarts enjoy their sexual encounters..... erm... you'd think so.  This is the bit that got me thinking Millie was mentally unwell, she thought she was the bo**ocks, in every aspect of her life... she knew it all, had all the skills, this delusion of grandeur is common with people who lose reach of real life, perhaps it was the drug and alcohol misuse?  Or it could be she's completely well and just a bit of a kn*b!  

The part I found troubling to read; the rape of a child in the club toilet and that's what it was; rape. It was glossed over.  The girl was 14, she NEVER consented, she was in no fit state, Millie had blood on her hands (literally not metaphorically), it was not consensual. Millie herself doubted herself but brushed it off  'Nah she will have loved it... silly cow getting herself in that state it was what she deserved'. After the violation, then to take a photograph.  This is sick.  Millie should have been called to question about this.  She did not deserve a happy ending.

So, I did like the book?  The content, in parts yes, mentally mapping out old haunts in Liverpool; for me a little trip down memory lane (and hating the studes)...  the portrayal of Jamie and co could have been told in a gentler way.  Perhaps lose the child rape and I'd be okay with it!  Oh and one too many uses of the C word, I don't mind, I'm not easily offended, but overuse loses impact (iykwim).

I read 'Brass' has been likened and compared to Irvine Welsh's 'Trainspotting'.  Nope not in the same league, 'Trainspotting' stands alone, this does not level up (by far).  

3 stars.... in fact 4 stars for the amazing Scouseness of it! Come 'ead la!  


xx Emma-Lou


(I had to check the spelling of 'gonorrhoea', hope the hub doesn't get a fright if he checks the history)

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