"Silver Linings" is author Millie Gray's seventh novel. Since first putting pen to paper in 2008 she has seen her work make the bestseller list. She places her characters around the port of Leith during the years of the Second World War and its aftermath and writes with a familiarity about their homes, the streets round about them and of their working lives.
The Anderson family are a close-knit group - parents Johnny and Sandra, their three sons Bobby, Jack and Davy and daughter Kitty - and see themselves as 'complete'; until Sandra, at age 38, suddenly finds herself pregnant again. Daughter Kitty takes the news of a new addition to the family badly and this causes a rift between her and her mother. The day of the baby's birth changes all their lives forever. A complicated birth sees baby Rosebud and her siblings left without a mother and father Johnny without his beloved wife. All struggle to cope, particularly Kitty whose death-bed promise to her mother leaves her as carer for her baby sister, leaving her hopes of improvement and for a different life in tatters.
Also part of the Anderson clan are Johnny's domineering mother Jenny, who lives close by, and his spinster sister Kate who stays with her. At 41, Kate has lived through the loss of her intended, Hugh, and is bereft of love with only memories to sustain her. Both she and her mother look to step in to care for baby Rosebud, but Johnny moves his family from their Ferrier Street home to a new place in Restalrig, hoping that a new start will help them all. And whilst Johnny throws himself into his role as shop steward at the shipyard and the boys move on one by one, Kitty simmers with resentment for the sister who took her childhood away and killed her hopes and dreams.
Kitty befriends new neighbour Connie, who also takes a shine to Johnny and he to her. The problem for them both is that Connie is still a married women. Whilst she is long separated from her husband, Johnny sees no future in a relationship with her unless they can be man and wife. He is also tied by his death-bed promise to Sandra, that he will never let another woman take her place. Tensions run high in the family and as each member tries to make their way in uncertain times, with the very fabric of their lives falling around them, events intervene to both push them apart and then draw them back together again. "Silver Linings" is a compelling read and a very satisfying one, leaving the reader with a sense of hope for the future for this, in many ways ordinary, but in other ways extraordinary, family.