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Handstands In The Dark: A True Story of Growing Up and Survival

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The author’s unique and moving life story of squalor, gangland violence, her mother’s murder and a frightening family of in-laws contains many extraordinary characters within an enclosed and seldom-revealed Glasgow of the 1960s to the 80s.


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The author’s unique and moving life story of squalor, gangland violence, her mother’s murder and a frightening family of in-laws contains many extraordinary characters within an enclosed and seldom-revealed Glasgow of the 1960s to the 80s.

30 review for Handstands In The Dark: A True Story of Growing Up and Survival

  1. 5 out of 5

    Flapper72

    I have to say that I came to this book after finding Janey Godley's parodies of Nicola Sturgeon on twitter and then also a couple of wonderful things on the BBC. I then found her and her daughter on facebook during lockdown just chatting away to people and I wanted to know more about this lady. This book is just astounding. Dad an alcoholic, Mum being abused and eventually murdered, Janey being abused by her uncle and then ending up in an abusive marriage. But the book makes you laugh too, chara I have to say that I came to this book after finding Janey Godley's parodies of Nicola Sturgeon on twitter and then also a couple of wonderful things on the BBC. I then found her and her daughter on facebook during lockdown just chatting away to people and I wanted to know more about this lady. This book is just astounding. Dad an alcoholic, Mum being abused and eventually murdered, Janey being abused by her uncle and then ending up in an abusive marriage. But the book makes you laugh too, characters are colourful and Janey never appears as a victim despite all that her life has thrown at her. A great book that would feel fantastical if it weren't true written by a truly amazing woman.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jack O'Donnell

    The librarian looked at me when I checked this book out. I’m used to this, being very handsome, a bit like a young Sean Connery only older and balder and a bit more in the beef stakes. But the librarian was a man. I’ve nothing against that kind of thing. These barriers are breaking down. If a librarian wants to be a man and wants to gawk at me and manhandle my choice of book then that’s his perogative. He looked as if he wanted to say something, but as Jane Godley showed time after time, men in The librarian looked at me when I checked this book out. I’m used to this, being very handsome, a bit like a young Sean Connery only older and balder and a bit more in the beef stakes. But the librarian was a man. I’ve nothing against that kind of thing. These barriers are breaking down. If a librarian wants to be a man and wants to gawk at me and manhandle my choice of book then that’s his perogative. He looked as if he wanted to say something, but as Jane Godley showed time after time, men in Glasgow don’t talk to each other. They make innane stament and wait for the other guy to trip over it. So if I met a man with three heads in my local I’d just sip my beer and maybe later ask him where he got his hair cut. The librarian said he’d seen her [the author of the book I’d chosen] doing standup. He’d said she’d been to Austrailia and Billy Connelly had been in the audience at one of her gigs. I asked him if he’d booed. That was a joke. You shouldn’t have to do jokes, but Jane Godley undestands what Glasgow men are like. At the age of six she was trying to work out a way to commit suicide. Her mother’s brother was regularly raping her and, although she didn’t know it at the time, also her sister Ann, who was a few years older than her. Her mother refused to deal with it. She warned Janey if she told her father he would end up murdering him and end up in prison for a very long time. Her father was a weekend alcholic and her mother, a young girl herself, with four kids (two brothers Mij and Vid) in Glasgow’s East End couldn’t cope, and also liked her drink and Valium, with periodic bouts in the local nut house. But Godley is too good a writer to leave us with that unleavened stereotype. She helps us to understand her mother and love her quirky ways and feel sad when she’s—almost certainly—murdered by her psychopathic boyfriend, who took up with her after her dad leaves home. She also helps us to understand how she ended up dating and marrying a local gangster’s son, Sean Storrie and how she loves and hates him at the same time. Old George is an old-fashioned patriarch with seven sons. He is the family business. Sean and Jane find a home and kinship in one of Old George’s projects The Nationalist Bar which they rename The Weavers. Their success provokes jealousy from other family members. But it was a divide and rule world. 'Old George seemed to enjoy torturing me. He behaved the same to his sons. If he found a weakness he would pick at it like a scab until it bled. Old George had lost his wife; his sons had lost their own mother; but they were not averse to hurting me and laughing about my Mammy’s death.' Janey gets pregnant and in the usual way of her life nothing is straightforward. The fetus poisons her body and she can’t keep food down is constantly sick or nauseous and has to go to the hospital to be fed be intravenous drip a couple of times a week. Ashley, when she is born, is the one thing that binds the family together and even Old George is charmed by her. The mark of a great writer is you love them and you love whom they love. Of course, I love Ashley too. But I fiind it hard when, in a Byzantine political manouvere to keep corrupt Glasgow City Councillors from shutting Weavers Bar they and their cronies join the Conservtive Party. As part of the young Conservative couple from Calton, Janey gets to meet Margaret Thatcher. My smypathy only extends so far. The only people I wanted to meet Thatcher were the Brighton bombers, but I suppose in her circumstances this is understandable. And her book is endorsed by the Daily Mail. When Old George dies everything unravels. It’s brother against brother and family be fucked, which sounds Thatcherite to me. But I am biased, but Jane Godley does not need my, or any other person’s sympathy. This is right up there with Growing up in the Gorbals, Ralph Glasser’s classic account of what it felt like to be poor in early twentieth-century Glasgow. I can pay her no greater compliment than that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ailsa

    Definitely not the usual kind of book I read, but I went into it as a fan of Janey Godley not a fan of books with sad weans on the front cover. Miserable but good.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cara Mackay

    read it in less than a week. I was really nervous about reading it but Janey looks after you, the reader, when describing the torturous trauma & keeps you in good faith that of course, Godley eventually gets her freedom. after a week of being part of the Storrie / Currie families - I’m glad it’s done, I’m relieved we’re out of there and I am desperate to know where we go next. Unbelievable, heart wrenching writing - I cried for me too. ❤️

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brian Carlin

    The story of a desperately sad and violent life. I wouldn’t say she’s much of a writer, but she’s a great talker. If this was a fiction you’d have trouble finding redemptive characters in the story, even Janey herself who Just about survives in it. There is love there, but apart from the daughter, it’s a messy, complicated and unstable life. And unfortunately the lives depicted remind me of several I knew as a wee lad in 1960s Gorbals and Bridgeton.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Polley

    This is a tragic life story book. Janey lives in Glasgow and grows up with an abusive uncle and poverty driven life. As a teenager, Janey marries into a gangster family and even though her husband beats her and she is always threatening to leave it seems that they are still together, which I wasn’t expecting. An ok book but I wouldn't reread it. This is a tragic life story book. Janey lives in Glasgow and grows up with an abusive uncle and poverty driven life. As a teenager, Janey marries into a gangster family and even though her husband beats her and she is always threatening to leave it seems that they are still together, which I wasn’t expecting. An ok book but I wouldn't reread it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I found the Nicola Sturgeon clips so funny I had to read this. I’m in my early 30s & I’ve never heard of Janey Godley before & my expectations of her Bio weren’t too high as it sounded like a good few Bios I’d read before with the similar themes of abuse. How Wrong I was. I read this in one sitting, the narrative played in my head like some perverse, gory Glaswegian movie like a cross between Angela’s Ashes, Trainspotting & The Sopranos 😮 Not once did Janey go on a huge self indulgent ego- trip I found the Nicola Sturgeon clips so funny I had to read this. I’m in my early 30s & I’ve never heard of Janey Godley before & my expectations of her Bio weren’t too high as it sounded like a good few Bios I’d read before with the similar themes of abuse. How Wrong I was. I read this in one sitting, the narrative played in my head like some perverse, gory Glaswegian movie like a cross between Angela’s Ashes, Trainspotting & The Sopranos 😮 Not once did Janey go on a huge self indulgent ego- trip telling her story but did so with such humble candidness and grace. I learned things about Glasgow in the 70s I I never even knew about and despite being heartbreakingly sad, their were great moments of humour joy and revelation. The fact she got the opportunity to party with Prince, who I love was just the icing on the cake for me. 😍👏👏

  8. 4 out of 5

    Becky Walsh

    I’ve been a fan of Janey’s voiceovers during lockdown and when I saw this book come up on the Kindle daily deals I was intrigued to read the story behind the woman who makes me laugh so much. The saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” may as well have been invented for Janey, so many knocks, horrors and hardships in her life but she has come through it and out the other side. This could easily be a sob story from cover to cover but Janey strikes a remarkable balance between the gritty I’ve been a fan of Janey’s voiceovers during lockdown and when I saw this book come up on the Kindle daily deals I was intrigued to read the story behind the woman who makes me laugh so much. The saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” may as well have been invented for Janey, so many knocks, horrors and hardships in her life but she has come through it and out the other side. This could easily be a sob story from cover to cover but Janey strikes a remarkable balance between the gritty realism of her situation and the humour for which we have come to know and love her. It was written in such a natural way, I could hear her voice in my head as I read it, it was almost like she was sitting alongside me telling me the story herself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Wow! How that woman has survived her ghastly upbringing and chaotic childhood - sexual abuse by an uncle from a very young age, alcoholic father, dysfunctional mother who accepted physical abuse from men in her life and was ultimately murdered by a lover - and has come out laughing and fighting is truly remarkable. And for her to have written so frankly about her (still) husband and his family is astonishing. Understandable why neither he nor their daughter will not read the book but are proud o Wow! How that woman has survived her ghastly upbringing and chaotic childhood - sexual abuse by an uncle from a very young age, alcoholic father, dysfunctional mother who accepted physical abuse from men in her life and was ultimately murdered by a lover - and has come out laughing and fighting is truly remarkable. And for her to have written so frankly about her (still) husband and his family is astonishing. Understandable why neither he nor their daughter will not read the book but are proud of Janey for its success. I look at Janey with respect and admiration and wish her peace, love and happiness for the rest of her life. The book is shocking, eye-opening and, in spite of the material, hilarious in parts. An astonishing woman of incredible fortitude - Trump is a c**t!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jean Campbell

    I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting, entertaining, horrifying, tragic, and full of hope. Such an insight to life in the Gorbals during this time; the challenges and impossibility of it all. Props to Janey for coming out the other end and doing so well. I throughly enjoy your humor and that of your daughter Janey :) What a crazy and amazing life. Well worth the time taken to read. Having grown up in the north of Scotland I didn’t experience a life anything like Janey, but there were def I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting, entertaining, horrifying, tragic, and full of hope. Such an insight to life in the Gorbals during this time; the challenges and impossibility of it all. Props to Janey for coming out the other end and doing so well. I throughly enjoy your humor and that of your daughter Janey :) What a crazy and amazing life. Well worth the time taken to read. Having grown up in the north of Scotland I didn’t experience a life anything like Janey, but there were definitely things I recognized and to some degree lived. It was enlightening to read how someone else grew up, and also to recognize some parts of yourself in that, even if only in small part.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anne Goldie

    Janey Godley came from nothing and battled her way (she’s still battling if you follow her on social media and go to see her live shows) to become the funny political woman she is, fighting for social justice in any way she can. This book is raw and exposes the horror and long lasting effects of abuse. No holds barred as she tells the story of a childhood and young adulthood blighted by poverty and violence and yet the humour she lives by shines through.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lesley-Anne Armour

    Couldn't put it down! What an amazing story, from the very first second of reading it you're hooked, a truly gripping story from the very first sentence right to the very end. Amazing. Couldn't put it down! What an amazing story, from the very first second of reading it you're hooked, a truly gripping story from the very first sentence right to the very end. Amazing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    anne marie paton

    Inspiration This woman astounds me. Not sad just a Victory for a superwoman.Weird we now hear Janeys voice while reading. May she reap the rewards she deserves . Ashley must be so proud Hopefully a follow-up soon. Truly Inspiring xx

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gillian McCallum

    I heard a lot of good reviews about this book, but I found it really hard to get into. I found the chapters to repeat itself, I started to skim pages as I could guess what it was going to say. I really like Janey as comic but her book just wasn’t for me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    ARLENE STURROCK

    Brilliant Very good read from a strong woman, i just need an up to date version of how she doing now.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Preston

    Excellent read, I feel there should be a follow up, left you wondering

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jan Bell

    Always like Janey but now I love her. Wee janey and big Janey. Janey the mammy Janey the wean and specially Janey the wife. What a wummin

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ms Vicki Fraser

    Interesting, well written book Fascinating insight into the life & times of Janie Godley growing up & surviving life in Glasgow in hard times.

  19. 5 out of 5

    s e stewart

    Fabulous and harrowing read Couldn’t put it down, honest and harrowing account by Janey a beacon to other abused women to survive and flourish

  20. 4 out of 5

    marrie anderson

    A gripping read This book had me gripped from beginning to end, although I would have loved to know what happened to Sean , Ashley and Janey

  21. 5 out of 5

    marie king

    Heartfelt Brilliant, your " Frank get the door " got me through lockdown, your book made me laugh,cry&think,you are AWESOME,thank you Heartfelt Brilliant, your " Frank get the door " got me through lockdown, your book made me laugh,cry&think,you are AWESOME,thank you

  22. 5 out of 5

    Miz

    Saving my thoughts for book club. What a strong female, what a hard childhood to live through.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Moving beyond words I just can’t wait to read what happens next! What a story, what a life, what a woman Janey is.

  24. 4 out of 5

    pauline failoni

    Fab sad and honest Wow amazing book I could have written some pages word for word myself. Tough d city Glasgow but your heart does belong there. Xx

  25. 4 out of 5

    Beryl Burrows

    Brilliant Amazing book, with a happy ending,it made me cringe, made me laugh, and it made me cry, well doneJaney Godley.

  26. 5 out of 5

    A Barnes

    Find Janey interesting and definitely funny. Can’t wait to finish her story. I hope there’s a book 2!!

  27. 5 out of 5

    nick

    Tough tough but such a brave woman This book is not wrapped in cotton wool, but it's an interesting read because of this. Those who watched her excellent impressions of nicola sturgeon on Facebook should read this to appreciate her life story. Tough tough but such a brave woman This book is not wrapped in cotton wool, but it's an interesting read because of this. Those who watched her excellent impressions of nicola sturgeon on Facebook should read this to appreciate her life story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mairi Thomson

    A hard read at times, no child should have this childhood but genuine credit to janey godley for not letting herself be a victim 🙌

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lesley Russell

    Great book. There is no self pity from some one who had a terrible start in life. Found this book moving, funny and cheerful.

  30. 5 out of 5

    lauren penman

    Hand stands in the dark Had to give this book 5* amazing read written well I love janey I watch her all the time her wee voiceover videos make me lol all the time. When I seen she had a book out I just had to read about her life what amazing woman I would definitely recommend her book it you haven't bought it yet it won't disappoint you Hand stands in the dark Had to give this book 5* amazing read written well I love janey I watch her all the time her wee voiceover videos make me lol all the time. When I seen she had a book out I just had to read about her life what amazing woman I would definitely recommend her book it you haven't bought it yet it won't disappoint you

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