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Publisher's Summary

This is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings.

Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: She is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good - her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits - all the family has to live on - on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. 

Agnes’ older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Meanwhile, Shuggie is struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right”, a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her - even her beloved Shuggie. 

A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction.

©2020 Douglas Stuart (P)2020 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What listeners say about Shuggie Bain

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Didn’t finish

I found this book too course and full of the ill qualities of life that I lost interest. To
Be blunt It was vulgar and out if my comfort zone for fiction.

5 people found this helpful

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Beautiful, sad and heart-wrenching story!

I couldn’t stop crying and laughing while listening to this audiobook. Couldn’t stop listening to it period. Tragic but beautiful coming of age story where you end up really emotionally investing in the main characters. Narrator did a phenomenal job, perfectly portrayed the Glasgow accents and vernacular. It is easy to see how this book one the Booker Prize. This book could appeal to a wide range of audiences.

4 people found this helpful

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Great story and narration

Absolutely intimate and personal story of love, grief and loss and life eventually. And super realistic narration! Loved it.

However, I found it hard to understand the speeches of some characters speaking with an accent. Not saying thats a fault of the narrator. Probably because of my unfamiliarity with the accent.

Anyway, thanks to the writer, narrator and everyone involved. It touched me deeply and will stay with me for some good time I can tell.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautiful

What a beautiful sad story. Well written- so detailed and I enjoyed the narrator so much! I loved his version of each character. I loved Agnes and Snuggie, constantly reminded me of my relationship with my own son and I must have hugged him a million times while listening to this. Agnes...I loved “hoor master”!

2 people found this helpful

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How on earth to love your mother.

I once went to a conference in Glasgow and this book, extremely well narrated, made me smile as I remembered the accents and difficulties I had understanding conversations. Violence, poverty, unemployment, homophobia and religious bigot-ism are all background to this tragic 1980s coming of age tale of the young boy, Shuggie Bain, raised by his single parent alcoholic mother, Agnes. The downward spiral of Agnes, given no realistic chance by a brutal , prejudiced and patriarchal society, is inevitable and realistic in its hopelessness. At times this makes for a difficult listen but there are some rays of sunshine when it comes to Shuggie himself as we see him develop extreme survival skills in every facet of his life. His siblings escape to South Africa and the Cumbria coast but Shuggie is left orphaned in a Glasgow SRO. We leave him pondering it all as he helps his girlfriend's mother, another abused victim, survive as a street alcoholic. A triumph of the human spirit over adversity for one admirably empathetic soul born into the wrong family at the wrong time. Also a triumph of a novel.

2 people found this helpful

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An exceptional narrator

I had to listen twice - such a sad and descriptive of the time that families experienced. Could’ve been a true story. The narrator gave so much empathy to the listener.

1 person found this helpful

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A Stark story from a Mean City.

Oh but for the grace of God. There go I.
A seriously de-industrialized city, the outside world moving on. Shuggie and company are among the many who suffered the depravities of a society that was essentially a full time existence of drink, sleep, work, more drink. Like many youth of that time he would likely improve his lot. Just not within 400 miles of that city.
A great read. It brought back many many memories. The narrator has done an excellent job,

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incredible

so hard to put into words what I felt about this book. heartbreaking, heartwarming, raw, I could go on. it took it to another level with the narrative and hearing it read in a glasgow accent made it even better. it is a must read

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant read

loved this from start to finish. The narration was spot on. A true tearjerker
for sure. So much truth I this book.

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Loved it.

The characters are alive. They are real. The story captures you into the lives and humour and heartbreak of everyone of them, especially Shuggie and his mother. The narration was perfect as well. I couldn’t stop listening and within a few days had devoured the entire book.

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  • SuperShopper
  • 2021-02-18

There’s far too much real pain and sadness in the world to spend any time listening to this tale of woe

This is very well written, and the quality of the reader is great, except his dialect is sometimes so thick I had to rewind to get it right. The story is such a sad, tragic tale of an alcoholic woman who cannot and will not take care of her own children, nor herself, I just found myself angry all the time. Over all, I hated Agnes, hated the subject, and it drug on for far too long. I loved Shuggie, but the life he led was bold, italics, underline DEPRESSING! I really can’t think of one person I could recommend this audible to. But if I can keep someone from wasting 18 hours on it, then I will have done a good deed. You probably won’t believe me anyway because it has gotten many good reviews, but I really really REALLY hated it.

113 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-01-23

Just a sad story

Sad story of alcoholic mom and neglected abused children - not sure what got this to top ten book for NYTimes? Depressing book - perhaps because we do such a poor job addressing such tragic health issues..would not recommend unless you want to be depressed.

46 people found this helpful

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  • Sharey
  • 2020-02-29

Rather Interesting, Very Unfortunate

and Deeply Profound

I would have enjoyed this even more if I had been able to understand it all. As it was, between the narrator's heavy accent and the dialect, there was a LOT I missed. In fact, I had to read the first two chapters over three times to get the hang of it and adjust my listening ear. A sad tale of alcoholism, family, sexuality, poverty, and shame. 4.75 Stars

45 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 2020-10-19

Glaswegians under Pressure

The characters in “Shuggie Bain” are remarkable. They are poor, oppressed, often mean and often drunk. But somehow, despite their cruelties, they are sympathetic.

Shuggie himself is a “not right” child, an effeminate boy living with his alcoholic mother, mostly near some shut coal mines in Glasgow. The novel follows Shuggie from age five through about 16, as his mother Agnes—the center of the story—struggles with loneliness, frustration and anger. Agnes carries herself with a “posh” style that fits her beauty but not her means. Shuggie’s taxi-driving father is mostly absent, and the neighbors treat the family with contempt.

Douglas Stuart portrays all his characters with fine detail, total realism and a deep understanding. I always believed in the truth of the story.

The narrator was excellent, with the right emotion and variations of voice. My only hesitation was his Scottish dialect, which could be hard to understand. He repeatedly mentions “Wayans,” for example, which I finally realized meant “wee ones.” But you catch on.

Overall, this was a moving drama that held my interest throughout.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Grant
  • 2020-09-25

A masterpiece

The beautiful writing of this debut novel wraps tenderly the joyful protoganist, surrounded by so much dreadful sadness and despair. Few books I’ve read have moved me so greatly and challenged me so deeply on how I should be a father and husband. One of those that will live with you long long after you’ve finished it.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Erna
  • 2020-10-02

Incredible performance

Beautifully read and a touching story that is so humane and delicate, never maudlin. Highly recommend.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Richard
  • 2020-12-13

Fantastic Listen

Who would have thought story of abuse, alcoholism, bullying and poverty could not to boring and depressing? Narration is fantastic. Best book I have read/listened to in years.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Robert D Hunter
  • 2020-11-11

A love story wrapped in tragedy and heart break.

The characters are so very real and live in such breathtaking circumstances. With all the pain Agnes causes and for all the damage that results her love for her son never wavers.

The descriptions of life on the edges of society are all to vivid and poignant.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Diane Q
  • 2020-10-19

One of the best

Everything about this audible selection hit the highest mark. A terrific story matched with a terrific narrator. This story will stay with me for a bit. Very well done!

16 people found this helpful

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  • P. Bergh
  • 2020-12-08

A beautiful, sad but heartwarming story

Wow, I’d listen to this book just for the wonderful Scottish accents! But the story itself is just beautiful. If you liked Angela’s Ashes, but want something a bit warmer, this is a great choice.

13 people found this helpful