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Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan - Book Review

 

 

Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan - Book Review

 

 

Father David Anderton was born in Edinburgh, but as a child the family moved to Lancashire where he was brought up and educated at Ampleforth College in the north of England.

Now in his fifties, he is moved back to Ayrshire where, perhaps mischievously, the Celtic Football Club supporting Bishop, gives him a parish in a mainly protestant area. There is a large wooden hut opposite the church, painted bright blue, where the local Orange Lodge band carry out loud practice sessions to coincide with church services.

Back at the manse Father David's housekeeper Mrs Poole initially regards him with suspicion. He's English after all, despite what he says through his plummy accent. He drinks wine and port for goodness sake, how much more proof could you need than that, though their mutual love of music and gardening soon deepens their respect.

Outside of church Father David makes friends with some rough kids, teenagers from difficult backgrounds, where drugs and alcohol and matches are always present, and soon they are taking trips together, days out, that is.

Just as in one of his previous books, Personality, Andrew O'Hagan has a deft ear for the Scottish accent and dialect. On several occasions I found myself repeating aloud Scottish phrases like some extra on the set of Doctor Finlay's Casebook. (oh Janet!) I defy you not to.

There is great humour here too. I laughed aloud on many an occasion, especially at some of the football lines.

The middle of the book harks back at David Anderton's university career at Oxford where he fnally finds himself, though I suspect he truly found himself long before that. I didn't enjoy this section so much, but it was soon over and we are back in Ayrshire for the climax of the book. The humour has gone now. There is a time for laughter, and that has most definitely now passed.

Be Near Me is beautifully written and a real page turner. I read it in near record time and that is a tribute to the quality of the writing of Andrew O'Hagan. If you are a budding writer there are lots of lessons to be learned here. If you haven't read anything by this writer before, then why not take the time to seek out his excellent books? I reckon you'll enjoy them. This book can be bought in Britain for just a penny, plus postage, and that is a bargain in anyone's language.

As Alan Massie wrote in the Scotsman newspaper, "I wish I had written it." Here, here to that. Highly recommended

 

Andrew O'Hagan Video

 

Here is the man himself inviting you into his writing room, as he tells the viewer about how he goes about his craft, where his books come from, and how he goes about completing them.

 

 

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