family business

a novel by Ged Melia

Edward has his flaws but is not malicious. At least that’s what his brother, Thomas, thinks. Others are less sanguine; his wife Gladys for example, Evelyn who bears him an illegitimate child, Marcella, his nightclub singer mistress, and Mary, the woman who stands by him during his time in Wakefield Prison. Despite her Catholic beliefs, Emma, Edward’s mother, is forgiving, as is his sister, Annie. No so for Catherine, who eventually feels shamed by newspaper reporting on her brother-in-law’s criminal activities; she has to live with the gossip. His charmed and somewhat roguish existence is brought to a halt by reckless misjudgement which leads to an appearance at Manchester Assizes, and a sentence of ‘three years penal servitude’.

Set during the inter-war years, ‘family business’ is about a generation aspiring to improve its lot through building a road haulage business, from a single “solid-tyred horror”, a lorry, to a national company with dozens of employees. Initially situated in the industrial landscape of a grey and soot-stained Bolton of the 1920s and 1930s, the family story expands along with the growth of the business, into London, Liverpool, Blackpool and Warrington.

Anchored on historical fact, newspaper reporting and family anecdote, religious and social tensions between family members are explored, as are the challenges they faced in the lives they led.