Ruby James is a local woman living life to the full – the NHS hospital where she works as a nurse a microcosm of the new-town community in which she grew up. While certain outsiders might label her and her friends, the common people of the town, as ‘white trash’ – dismissing them as a faceless mass of shaven-headed thugs and bottle blondes, Ruby knows different as she revels in the pubs and clubs of a thriving culture, fuelled and soothed by cold drink and a deep-rooted decency.
For Ruby, every person is unique and has a story to tell. Like Pearl, who lost the rocker love of her life to a motorbike crash when she was young and never married, instead focusing on her work as a schoolteacher. Or Ron Dawes, who travelled the world in the merchant navy and somehow survived its oceans and ports to came back alive and end up a grandfather. Or Danny Wax Cap, with his interest in magic mushrooms and the things they can reveal. Or her mum, who has forgotten her stories. And Ruby deals with her own ghosts in her own way, aware that physical and mental health are precious, that the memories that make a person can be easily stolen. The epitome of positive thinking, she sees the best in everyone – at least until true evil comes to call.
With its background of satellite housing, heaving pubs, pounding rhythms, motorway dreams, police choppers and a single pink Cadillac, White Trash believes in society and is a firm defence of the NHS and the broader welfare state. It is an attack on the snobs and haters, a book that pits Ruby’s homegrown morality against an ideologue’s depravity.
“At the heart of this novel is the secular wonder of socialised medicine, that most significant symbol of human civilisation... The cumulative effect of King's style, with streams of monologue, alternating between Ruby and Jeffreys, is astonishingly powerful in its detail and depth. This is an immensely timely and necessary book; stylish, witty and passionate. It’s about time someone slapped the smugness from the face of broadsheet Britain.” Mat Coward, The Independent