Stevie, the protagonist in Rachel Seiffert’s new novel The Walk Home, is too young to be so self-possessed. Too young to be on his own. Having run away to work in London while still in his teens he has returned to his native Glasgow, Scotland, and lives in the large empty house the team of Polish tradesmen is renovating. He is geographically close to his family; close enough to know he cannot go home. At the beginning, everything had been so different: so hopeful. Stevie’s parents, Graham and Lindsay, were young then too. But they were in love and, when Lindsay found she was pregnant, had set up home together in a neglected apartment on the rundown Glasgow housing scheme. Undeterred, they clean it up, give it a coat of paint, and it was their own place.
Lindsay sees it as the beginning of their journey out of the tenements: a future. But Graham increasingly feels the tug of the insular world in which he grew up, particularly membership of the Orange Lodge band, symbol of the pervasive sectarianism that divides Glasgow almost as rigidly as Belfast where its roots lay.