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Beyond The Blue    by Andrea MacPherson order for
Beyond The Blue
by Andrea MacPherson
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

The year is 1918 in Dundee Scotland. The town is missing most of its male population. Those still there were refused to fight in the war, or have returned home missing an arm or leg, or wearing a vacant face. The town is run by the women, who work in the jute mills and take care of the children.

Morag is a war widow. She has raised two daughters and toiled in the mill. Her oldest daughter Caro works in the local post office, while Wallis works in the mill like her mother. After Morag's sister Bridget dies and her husband leaves town, Morag also takes in her niece Imogen to raise.

All of the women dream of an easier, better life. Wallis is secretly putting money away each week to pay for her passage to Ireland, to live with friends. Caro thinks she can have a better life by becoming romantically involved with the mill owner, despite the fact he already has a wife. Imogen is dealing with the sudden death of her mother and her father's disappearance, while remembering happier family times.

Morag fights for her life when she learns she has mill fever, a disease of the lungs caused by years of working in the mill. Life becomes a struggle to survive each day. Then family and friends are lost to the influenza pandemic and the Tay Bridge disaster.

This is a beautiful story of families fighting against the odds to survive, and of women with secrets and desires. Andrea MacPherson has written of what she knows. Her grandmother grew up in Dundee while her great grandmother worked in the jute mills. Beyond The Blue is a good read.

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