The Kellys of Kelvingrove was first published in 2010 and this is only the second book by Margaret Thomson Davis which I’ve read. I enjoyed the first one, The Clydesiders but this one really annoyed me, it’s set in Glasgow in the early 1970s which was a time when I was spending a lot of time in the city so everywhere mentioned was well known to me. Unfortunately it obviously wasn’t so well known to Thomson Davis, or whoever wrote the book, I’m beginning to think that maybe it was franchised out to be ghost written, as sometimes happens when a previously successful author has stopped coming up with the goods for their publisher. This seems to be the last book which was written by the author, so maybe she was just getting a bit too old and forgetful when she wrote it – if she did.
Jack Kelly is a Glasgow policeman, married to Mae and they live in a rented room and kitchen, having a very frugal lifestyle. Jack dreads getting into debt. That was the first thing which annoyed me because it made out that policemen weren’t well paid, when of course they were, even before taking into account overtime.
After he was involved in the Ibrox Stadium disaster Jack didn’t feel the same way about his neighbourhood and decided to rent a much larger house in the much posher area of Kelvinside, close to Kelvingrove Art Gallery. That’s when Mae starts getting into financial difficulties, unknown to Jack.
That’s as much as I’m going to say about the storyline which is thin and not credible to me but there were lots of details which were wrong and drove me mad. Such as the mention of Buckfast as the alcohol of choice for youngsters and winos. In the 1970s it was only Lanliq and Eldorado which were drunk by ‘alkies’. Buckfast hadn’t reared its ugly head.
There’s actually a mention and description of The Royal Concert Hall at the top of Buchanan Street which wasn’t even built until the late 1980s and the description of Buchanan Street itself is of as it is today – pedestrianised and a popular destination for buskers, which it definitely was not in the 1970s.
There were various other anomalies and a very tedious ‘history’ of Gretna Green. It might be fine if you aren’t a Scot and don’t know Glasgow well but it just wasn’t for me.
Do you ever come across mistakes in books like that, and if so, does it put you right off?