Red Gown Girl

The recent assassination of JFK in America. Harold Wilson just coming into government in Britain. Amazing new machines called computers. And a hot new pop group from Liverpool. It is 1964 and the swinging sixties are even beginning to reach Scotland. Two eighteen-year-olds emerge from traditional farming families and strike out into this new world. Caroline tastes the rarefied atmosphere of student life in St Andrews; Pete plunges into the technological revolution at Dundee Tech. Their promising friendship falters as paths and lifestyles diverge. The 'ivory tower' of an old university is set in contrast to the earthiness of farming life as two worlds collide. Pete meets Alice, an evasive, attractive schoolgirl, and Caroline is being pursued by Hugh, a member of a polished set, known as the "Oxbridge Rejects", who have had to settle for St Andrews as a despised third choice. Dorothea is a member of this set, but she is a miserable prey to insecurities and jealousies. Colin, also a member, is charming and harmless … except when he gets behind the wheel of his old MG sports car. As the annual Ball at Chattan, Caroline's hall of residence, looms, the race is on to secure partners. A game of assumptions and deceptions begins.Hugh, having been turned down by Caroline, settles for Irish Patsy, a close friend of Caroline and Elspeth. Colin agrees to be Dorothea's ball-partner. He is not her first choice, but Hugh has proved unattainable. Or so she thinks. Pete and his brother, James, are en route from their farm to an exciting night at the 'posh dance' as partners of Caroline and her friend, Elspeth. The stage seems set for a night of glamour and frivolity, but … Dorothea's furious jealousy over Hugh escalates into sabotage to wreck the night for Caroline. Colin takes the MG for a spin and crashes into Pete and James' car halfway between St Andrews and Dundee, stranding all three of them for the night. When Colin fails to turn up as her partner, Dorothea succumbs to the mental darkness that has been pressing in on her for weeks. She attempts to take her own life. The night turns into near-tragedy instead of carefree enjoyment; shock and guilt instead of fun and games. Characters are tested: some rise to the challenge; some are found wanting. An old relationship founders; a new one blossoms. Behind the young people stands the older generation, doing what parents do best - and worst. Pete's mother is meddling with the best of loving intentions and his father is refusing to accept that his son should have any other career than the family farm. Alice's mother is trying to live her life through her daughter and make up for her own miserable youth which was blighted by teenage disgrace. Dorothea's parents are wrapped up in their privileged, pleasure-seeking life, weary of their difficult daughter and minded to offload their responsibilities. Colin's mother has given her immature son a dangerous toy in the old sports car, but his father moves swiftly to deal with the crisis this provokes, leaving Colin free of responsibility yet again. And Miss Goldsmith, the warden of Chattan, has the worst night of her life. As the ball-partners struggle to accept their share of the blame for Dorothea's drastic action - and the events that led up to it - the realisation begins to dawn that sometimes life is more than a game. But youth's a stuff will not endure: optimistic high spirits resurface at the end.
ISBN: 9781788763219
Type: Paperback
Pages: 208
Published: 18 April 2018
Price: $12.65

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