Book Review

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Bunty Maguire is feisty, gritty and direct in her speech, using a lot of swear words to display her angst at life. Embarking on a two week job on a cruise ship as a sound technician, mainly to get the job centre off her back, Bunty finds that life on board as a member of crew means that she is subject to a strict hierarchy that determines day to day life, but also that there is an unpleasant and deep seated misogyny and bigotry that brings back past traumas. 

After just three days, unable to cope with the sexual harassment from a certain crew member, Bunty jumps ship at the first port of call – Gibraltar – but is unable to retrieve her passport and finds herself stuck on the Rock with no money or the means to go over the border to Spain to get back to the UK. 

Whilst she likes the laid back vibe and the friendliness of the locals that she encounters, Bunty feels adrift and misses her family at home. 

Karren uses her own past experiences as a pioneer of the riot grrrl movement throughout the narrative to form Bunty’s character. The text is littered with music and cultural references that give a sense of time and place.

“But I feel wrong here. Is it just me? I so don’t fit in.”

“They’d have to change a lot for you to fit in here. You’re a natural boat rocker.”

“I didn’t know I was a boat rocker. I’m definitely a punk rocker.”

Bunty is befriended by various people who cross her path, but it is Inmaculada who has the greatest impact and when Inma’s mother dies from cancer Bunty is determined to find justice for those whose lives have been blighted by the industrial pollution emitted from the nearby petrochemical plant. 

The people that we meet along the way with Bunty display both positive and negative character traits, but it is Asif who makes the biggest impression on her and with whom she finds a close attraction.

Revolution on the Rock is a good read, not only for those who already know Gibraltar and the surrounding areas in Spain, or for those who want to know more about its history and the issue of Sovereignty, but also for those interested in focusing on some of the prevalent environmental problems that are addressed in the book. 

There are some passages that show a little more than they tell, and there is no big conclusion but although Bunty’s efforts to start a revolution aren’t successful, they are the start of a path to activism that will no doubt continue – maybe in a sequel to his novel?

Research is a critical tool when writing a novel based on real events, and Karren pays tribute to the help and assistance given to her by several people – some based in Gibraltar and others in Spain – in the Universal Acknowledgements at the back of the book. 

Karren is a masterful wordsmith and her debut novel showcases her talent as a writer. 

The book can be bought at and will be available at various outlets in Gibraltar.

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