Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Incomers by Moira McPartlin

The Pairty Line
Review by The Mole

Ellie has travelled from Africa to join her husband, bringing their young son, to a Scottish estate, where he is the factor. Ellie is a black African and has left her homeland to start life amongst white people in a culture that is almost entirely foreign to her. Set in 1966 when the coloured population of the UK was still very small and interracial marriages were extremely rare this story deals with Ellie's attempts to settle amongst strangers in a strange land. She encounters kindness and cruelty in places that take the reader by surprise.

"Set in 1960’s Fife yet dealing with the hot-button issues of racism and immigration, The Incomers has been described by The Herald on Saturday as ‘an accomplished début novel…’ and ‘…an emotive work of fiction’." was how it was described when we were asked if we would like to review it. And, frankly, that makes it sound a bit 'heavy'. But Maryom was going to embark on a Scottish Reading Challenge and so it sounded convenient. As it was, I got to it first and Maryom was having no problems with her challenge anyway.

I don't think the synopsis on the book does it justice although the synopsis above (much better) from the publisher's website is rather longer and accurate - and perhaps a little too long for my taste. I would say that The Herald on Saturday's "accomplished début novel' and 'emotive work of fiction' coupled with Alan Bissett's 'fascinate' really says it all.

McPartlin has employed a 'fly on the wall' device of "The Pairty Line". Remember 'party' lines? when switchboards couldn't cope with demand then you shared a line with another party and could hear what they were saying just by picking up your phone. By using this device we get to hear the prejudices of the locals and the kind of thing being said about Ellie and Nat, well... and others in the village, and through this we start to see that the prejudice against Ellie may not be what it seems.

It's an extremely good book and fascinating to read with plenty happening to involve the reader and take them back to the days when villages were communities that kept any new residents at arm's length.

Publisher - Fledgling Press
Genre - Literary Fiction

Buy The Incomers from Amazon


  1. Good review - thank you

  2. All reviews are subjective, but this is a good one (or do I just mean my subjective view is similar?)