Chris Hannan - Missy
(Chatto & Windus)
Missy is the first novel by award-winning Scottish playwright Chris Hannan but on this evidence, he should most definitely return to the theatre. Set in 1860s California, we follow the trials and tribulations of Dol, a young prostitute working out of saloons in the old Wild West. While heading east looking for a new start, Dol interrupts the attempted suicide of Pontius, an act which will set in motion numerous unfortunate and unpleasant events.
It’s an uneven novel and one that feels not a little self-indulgent. Early on Dol refers to herself as having enough self-pity ‘ballooning up inside her to refloat Ophelia’ and it’s this incongruity of language from its central character, coupled with a failure to evoke the atmosphere of 19th century American mining settlements, that stops the reader from immersing themselves in the character. Delving into Dol’s world ultimately makes for a somewhat lacklustre experience.