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Summary

A New Statesman book of the year.

A Scotsman book of the year.

Now that she’s gone, those who loved her, those who hated her and those who felt both ways at the same time are forced to ask one question: who was Clio Campbell? 

Three days before her 51st birthday, Clio Campbell – one-hit wonder, political activist, life-long love and one-night stand – kills herself in her friend Ruth’s spare bedroom. And, as practical as she is, Ruth doesn’t know what to do. Or how to feel. Because knowing and loving Clio Campbell was never straightforward. 

As news spreads, the story of Clio’s life spreads with it: from the Isle of Skye to an anarchist squat in Brixton, from a yoga retreat in Greece to Glasgow on the night of the Scottish referendum. Half a century of memories, of pain and of joy, and that peculiar feeling in between the two, are wrenched to the surface. 

Scabby Queen is a portrait of a woman who refuses to compromise and a picture of a country that does nothing but. It’s about the silencing of women’s voices, the destructive power of the celebrity machine, but most of all it's about empathy: its motives, its limits and the way it endlessly transformed.

©2020 Kirstin Innes (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Kirstin Innes is aiming high, writing for readers in the early days of a better nation." (A.L. Kennedy, author of Serious Sweet)

"Kirstin Innes has written a fat, firecracker of a book, revolving around the suicide of Clio Campbell, a Glasgow chanteuse, whose story emerges through the voices of friends, acquaintances, enemies and journalists with space to fill. It’s about women and silence, oddballs and adventurers and stupid mistakes; about ‘no need to worry about me’ Scottishness and 'getting by’ as practised by every culture on earth. Best of all, it’s about joy and hope and the pressing need to seize the day while one can." (Janice Galloway, author of The Trick Is to Keep Breathing)

"Totally immersive and gloriously polyphonic." (Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure)

What listeners say about Scabby Queen

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Pure magic!

I am feeling a tad bereft having just finished this book. It’s a powerful ‘read’, raw, smart, funny, political, feminist, human. Innes doesn’t balk from the less appealing facets of our flawed and human personalities. A very modern tale for out mad and beautiful world.

3 people found this helpful

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Might have been written by Iain Banks AI device

All the short comings of the original ( Iain Banks) .... painful, intense self-aware confessional pieces from too many (stock/overdrawn) characters. Perhaps I’m imagining things, no I’m not. I’m a couple of hours in and starting to feel the will to live slip away. The performances are fine.

I feared that this book would never end.

2 people found this helpful

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An excellent story of music and politics

This was a strong story and one that involved a great many characters and I am full of praise for Cathleen McCarron’s performance

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Well written but sad

pretty gloomy book to be honest I regret listening to this in lock down unfortunately

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OK

Good to start and loses its way. Would definatley follow author future books worth a listen

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Not for me.

Found this book very difficult to get in to. could not get into where to plot was going at times.

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Gloriously intoxicating

This story hoodwinked me, made my heart fall over. You end it, your eyes aching for more time between the words.

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Gripping, intriguiging

I really enjoyed this excellent writing, which has given me much food for thought, and a surprising last chapter.

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  • 18-05-21

Great writing, structure not suited to audiobook

This is a powerful book which highlights many social issues through its vocal, assertive, complex and flawed heroine. I loved how different portraits of her were painted by the significant people in her life, but I think it would have been even more effective for me had I read the physical book, so I could flip back and forth to follow the circumlocutory nature of the story structure.
Cathleen McCarron is in my top 5 favourite Audible narrators and I couldn't disagree more with those who have criticised her performance. She gave each character a credible voice and personality and brought the book to life.

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stunning. brilliant

loved it. stunning language that made me really notice and try to memorize. a scribble of red hair!