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  • Shuggie Bain

  • Written by: Douglas Stuart
  • Narrated by: Angus King
  • Length: 17 hrs and 30 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (229 ratings)

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Shuggie Bain

Written by: Douglas Stuart
Narrated by: Angus King
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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

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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.

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8 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.

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6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

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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.

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2 people 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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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”!

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2 people found this helpful

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A very difficult read

I stayed with this book because it rang with truth….the ugliness of addiction and the consequences. Shuggie was “a wee bit different” because his love and care for his mother, Agnes, was given without conditions. He just wanted her to be better. Powerful stuff, given the reality of his struggles. I did find the narrative difficult in the audio as the accent was new to me. I am glad I stayed with it.

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1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

A poignant story of deprivation, poverty, and addiction, but most of all, love, (And an unflinching indictment of the ravages of Thatcher’s Britain). Beautifully, sensitively written; pain and violence tempered by compassion and good humour. A terrific read.

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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.

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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

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1 person found this helpful