The Waiting


The Waiting‘I absolutely loved this book.’
Cynthia Rogerson, Northwords Now

One wintry day in Edinburgh, elderly Lizzie opens her door to Rachel, a young Swiss woman with stigmata-marked palms. Invading Lizzie’s snug existence of dog walks, Café Noirs and Glacier Mints, Rachel forces Lizzie to take stock, forces her to relive her friendship with the late Marlene, Rachel’s grandmother – wild, unscrupulous, unprincipled Marlene, who could charm birds out of trees and whose love of life, luxury, liquor and fun has kept Lizzie in thrall all these years.
A classic Edinburgh novel, The Waiting is a unique blend of fiction and historical fact from the 1930s to the present day.




‘This is a good book. It doesn’t mess around – it’s good from the first page to the last. … The back cover seduces the reader with promises of suspense, mystery and murderous intentions (and these are delivered!), but what kept me captivated was something much more subtle. Lizzie Fairbairn’s complicated friendship with the wild and dangerous Marlene, from early childhood to middle age, is heartbreakingly real and utterly compelling. … I have never read her work before, but I am about to correct this and search out previous Claire stories. I absolutely loved this book.’
Cynthia Rogerson, Northwords Now

‘darkly bright and razor-sharp, a delicious read’
Lesley Glaister, Sunday Herald, ‘The Books of 2012’

‘On the fiction front I’ve been very much enjoying Regi Claire’s excellent new novel, The Waiting … Set in Scotland, the story tells of a personal struggle to survive against an ever-threatening backdrop of love and betrayal. It is a gripping, beautifully written tale of female empowerment from the 1930s to the present day. And I should know – because, reader, I married her.’
Ron Butlin, Sunday Herald, ‘The Books of 2012’

‘Much of the relish this novel provides resides in its author’s gift for language, its rhythms and cadence, its power to evoke, its potential for fresh and striking imagery. Thus, trees reach into the sky to “tear it apart”, or someone’s signature scrawled on a page is “like a burst of flyaway laughter”. … [The Waiting] marks a writer who challenges herself as she does the reader. And she can write.’
Tom Adair, Scotland on Sunday

‘Regi Claire tackles these weighty topics with sensitivity and nuance, deftly weaving them through a narrative which time-trips between numerous decades without being reductive. There are moments when the quality of her writing is truly stunning, whether it is the comical image of a group of old women hobbling over a yard and sweeping the ground with their flap of skirts, or an elderly Lizzie listening to rock music and thinking of WWII, the boom of the drums intermingling with the boom of anti-aircraft fire, “The sounds of destruction visited upon the living.” Claire’s characterisation is subtle and precise, whether she is describing Marlene’s husband consumed with regret for not following his career as a research scientist, or Lizzie having never held a grown woman’s hand until she holds Rachel’s, or Marlene, for all her flaws, living life to the absolute heights and depths, raging in the throes of death. This is a novel full of the pits and peaks of life, of humour and pathos, of joyful light and nightmarish darkness, and the crisp, clean, razor-sharp style of Claire’s writing cuts to the heart of a story that will linger in the reader’s imagination for long after the final, dazzling passage ends.’
Jacqueline Thompson, Bottle Imp (Association for Scottish Literary Studies)
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‘One sleety day in the Edinburgh suburbs, the elderly Lizzie Fairbairn opens her door to a strange young girl with stigmata-marked palms. Her name is Rachel, and she is a Scottish-Swiss student bent on discovering more about her grandmother, Lizzie’s erstwhile friend, Marlene. What follows is a pilgrimage of recollection, a cathartic skittering between past and present. … Regi Claire conjures these memories with great acuity. Against the backdrop of wartime Edinburgh, the girls spend their adolescence executing dolls and ogling “the porridgy brain tissue” of ghastly waxworks. Such images of complacent violence and sideshow kink – reminiscent, at times, of an early Ian McEwan – recur throughout the novel. There are moments of brilliant period detail – countryside jaunts with Polish soldiers, Edith Piaf crackling on the gramophone. The past, we are assured, is as comforting as it is disquieting. … Claire describes the fears and solaces of old age with an affecting tenderness. The solitariness of [Lizzie’s] walks along the Meadows is offset by the “small mercies” of ritualistic pleasures, of Askit Powder and Glacier Mints. Rachel’s abrupt arrival forces Lizzie out of these snug commonplaces, and her acts of recollection bring with them a peculiar redemptive power.’
Laura Profumo, Times Literary Supplement

‘Regi Claire has said that The Waiting is her “Scottish novel” and as such it fizzles with the expected trappings: doublings, Calvinism, a gothic air of dreams, mysterious figures and the hauntings of the past, and, of course, a Scottish setting – Edinburgh. Having said that, this is not the city of the usual ghosts and castellated history, but an everyday story of ageing, dog walking and the belated attempt to make sense of a blotchy, inert life and the damning dilemmas of unrealised responsibilities. It is not the trappings which characterise the novel, then, but their undoing in a sensitively drawn tale of female friendship in the face of a particularly feminine onslaught against convention. … With such painfully ironic touches, Claire toys with fate in a Sparkian mode, pre-figuring characters’ endings and trapping them in their stories. … there are no easy answers provided here … Claire’s writing is measured, poised and sensitively composed. … The Waiting is a deeply sympathetic novel…’
Carole Jones, Edinburgh Review

‘Bitch. That’s the word that comes to mind when reading The Waiting, and not only because the characters in this book, like the chorus of Meredith Brooks’ hit, realise the bad as well as good facets of womanhood. Lizzie, the elderly anti-heroine, has been hanging out with bitches all her life, and now there’s a new one on her doorstep, pushing into her home and stealing her secrets. Yet calling the women in Regi Claire’s latest novel bitches isn’t enough – as the song goes, women are saints, sinners, children, mothers and lovers or something in between, and it is in this multi-faceted, realistic portrait of women that the book achieves its version of female empowerment. … The Waiting succeeds brilliantly at revealing different concepts of the maiden, the mother and the crone once thought to represent women (to have an elderly heroine with this much bite is relatively unusual)… This is a clever, uncomfortable novel that can capture a hundred emotions in one deft phrase; but the bitches don’t do sisterhood.’
Maltese Cat, Gutter

‘I found this book compelling and … would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Scottish contemporary fiction.’
Glasgow Women’s Library
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