Bourtreehill estate

Joy lives in Bourtreehill, a council estate outside Irvine, North Ayrshire. It is presented as run-down, bleak and ugly.

Galloway stresses the distance between Bourtreehill and anywhere else. It is:

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well outside the town it claims to be part of

Joy mentions that she has to take two buses to get where I have to go.. When she doesn't use public transport, Joy relies on others to give her a lift to school. The fact that Joy lives so far away from civilisation seems to confirm her position as an outsider and alien.

Mention is given to a rumour that this place was actually:

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meant for undesirables, difficult tenants from other places...from Glasgow.

This fits with Joy’s marginal position. It suggests Joy is also difficult, undesirable, a misfit in society because of her depression. It supports her position as a socially shunned, grieving mistress.