In real life the Author’s mother died when she was young and her father married again, to a woman who was less than kind to her stepchildren and who was ‘out-of-sympathy’ with the rest of her husband’s family.
In the My Friends books, Janet sees her father as a giant of a man as a little girl but grows up to see his flaws. They do not diminish her love for him but deepen his character from the cardboard hero into a real human being. This theme is repeated in the ‘Jean’ books where the child’s father, a gentle loving character with great inner strength, has a strained relationship with the mother, who dominates the home with her limited vision of success.
We know that in real life, Jane Duncan’s father was a policeman based in a Glasgow feeder town. Once again drawing from her real life experiences: in the Friends novels, the father is ‘displaced’ from the Highlands through the need to find work in Cairnton, a small town near Glasgow. In the ‘Jean’ books he gives in to his wife’s notions of progress and leaves his natural place on the great estate to move to the city.
Similar to ‘George and Tom’, the ‘My Father’ book is placed fairly late in the series, though he is a major character throughout, appearing in all the novels in one way or another. This is different from the ‘Jean’ novels where the father disappears part way through the first novel. Yet both fathers leave an indelible mark on the child.
What are some of your favourite parts?
How typical of his period is this father? What makes him so unique?
And... I still have an extra (paperback) copy of My Friend My Father to give to anyone who wants it. I offered it last year but no one took me up on the offer. Any takers? (Come on, someone give a poor lonely book a good home!)