Blessings in Disguise

Written by Jessica Stirling
Review by Fenella Miller

When Nolan McKenna brings his sisters to Glasgow they are penniless. They pretend to be the long-lost relatives of Cissie Cassidy, a middle-aged childless widow, and the lonely woman is only too pleased to take them in. The room they inhabit in the tenements is bare and cold, but within days Nolan is working as a labourer and putting money on the table. Evie, sharp-witted and pretty, finds herself a job as a bar-maid which leaves trusting Clare to fall for the wrong man. Russell Blackstock, land speculator and builder is attracted to Evie, and soon the lives of the wealthy Blackstocks and penniless McKennas are set on a collision course.

This is a fast-moving, well told story of Victorian Glasgow and its many inhabitants. It allows the reader a brief glimpse into the teeming world of slum dwellers and their betters. The rich cast of disparate characters brings this book alive. When the McKennas have sufficient funds to put a fire in the grate and food on the table, the reader rejoices for them.

This novel will be enjoyed by Stirling’s existing fans and will, no doubt, earn her many more.