‘Given these cramped circumstances and its generally naturalistic tenor, Beyond the Blue is a surprisingly poetic account of working-class life. A fine memorial, then, to MacPherson’s own Dundee-born grandmother, and to a way of life whose passing is scarcely mourned.’
– The Georgia Straight
Beyond the Blue (Random House, 2007)
In a Scottish mill town purged of men by war, four unforgettable women navigate a treacherous time, guided only by the bonds of family and their bold dreams of escape. In 1918, rainy Dundee is nearly emptied of men. The Great War has left the town’s women both newfound freedom and servitude. They toil in the deadly jute mills, taking in the children of perished family members and praying their own bodies – and spirits – do not fail them too. A grateful widow of the war, Morag shelters her daughters as best she can: beautiful Caro schemes to escape the working class with well-calculated seduction, while Wallis works in the mill alongside her mother, slowly fortifying both spirit and pocketbook for a more radical departure. Morag’s orphaned niece, Imogen, seeks to understand her fragile mother’s death, and the return of the father who abandoned them. Infused with the longing, courage and passion of its indelible cast of characters, and steeped in the faith and terrors of its time – from the suffragettes and the Easter Uprising to the influenza pandemic and the Tay Bridge disaster – Beyond the Blue is a lyrical, reflective novel about finding purpose and freedom in a place without hope.
MacPherson is a great writer of luminous, haunting moments and scenes.Sherie Posesorski
MacPherson is also a poet, and her elegant, lyrical wordsmithing gives the book much of its considerable power. She shifts fluidly between these four characters, moving in and out from sharp close-up to sooty landscape, from danger and disappointment to fragile hope.Maureen Garvie