Many of you will know Julie from her Morrissey connections. From Mozarmy to her book “15 Minutes with You”.
“Frank” is her first novel. The first in a series of three following the lives of a family in 1980s Airdrie.
The book tells the story of recently widowed Frank. The tale of how he, and daughter Jackie, are dealing with the many and varied challenges life is throwing at them after the death of his wife June.
I found myself drawn into Franks life from the off. The novel is an emotional rollercoaster with laugh out loud moments & happy events to bringing you to the brink of tears. Franks grief is palpable throughout, as is the comfort he gains from his interactions with deceased wife, June.
Julie on Grief
Julie: “I’ve noticed that when loved ones die, the grieving continue to look for signs to keep them close and remembered. E.g. if a robin lands on a bush, a feather floats down, if a song plays, a bee buzzes past, people believe these are signs from the deceased. When my daughter was accepted to a good school, I nodded towards the sky, feeling that my mother in law Bridget was keeping an eye on her, and this was her doing. Why do we do this? Perhaps it’s a way of entering a period of what might be called ‘a smiling grief. Frank is at the beginning of his path; June might be a ghost, she might be the strength of his grief, or she might be something else, but Frank is missing her and I love that she is sending him comfort, somehow”
As someone who grew up in the 80s, I could really visualise Frank’s home and the type of man he is. He is “old school” and very much looked after by wife June (with a bit of a twist which I’m sure we will discover more about in follow up novels) and other women in his life – daughter Jackie & neighbour Mrs Morrison cooking, cleaning and shopping for him.
Frank is finding adapting to life without June difficult. He needs her ongoing support, in whatever way he can find it, to get through.
All the settings in the novel – from the bookies to the working men’s club and other references, like trying to find a working phone box to make an urgent call were all exquisitely described. I felt I was there and picture what was going on in every scene.
JULIE ON THE SETTING: AIRDRIE
“I had to set the book somewhere and I felt it had to be Airdrie, where I lived from aged nine to seventeen. I confess I’ve only been inside the Workmen’s once when I was 14 and The Black Dog is made up. I have no idea of bus numbers – we walked everywhere. From Central Park to Cromarty Road and Chapel Street to Victoria Place. We spent a lot of time in Cairnhill woods climbing in through a broken window of the Cairnhill Hotel and playing hide and seek. I left Airdrie but it never left me. My mum and dad left too, they jetted off to… Coatbridge”
While the novel is set in Airdie, I’m sure many readers will be able to relate to the type of situations and locations described by Julie. You don’t need to know Airdrie. Personally, I’ve been in a number of working men’s clubs in deepest Lanarkshire over the years and felt myself transported back to them.
For any fans out there looking for connections to Morrissey be warned this isn’t a book about the Smiths. However, that’s not to say you won’t find anything Smiths related in it…
I’d highly recommend Frank to all. In summary, a poignant and tenderly told human interest story that I’m sure many will be able to relate to.
Like any great read, I was so immersed in the book, I felt disappointed when I got to the end. Frank was an extended part of my life for the time I was reading about him. I look forward to the next in the trilogy of tales of Frank, June and Jackie.
Frank is due for a November 7th release and will be published by Saron Publishing.
AUTHOR DETAILS: JULIE HAMILL
Other Books: 15 Minutes With You