Bang. Absolutely the best book I have read so far this year in this genre…such a skillful book. Every time a fleeting thought along the lines of ‘I should get up and do…’ entered my mind, it was banished! Have I got your attention? Good!
Exactly as the Guardian’s reviewer says on the cover, ‘a good literary novel and a cracking read’, and while I use the word ‘genre’, it is hard to categorise this into just one. It’s a whodunnit murder mystery, a brilliant insight into what aging feels like, and the perils of parenthood, and written with so much empathy and attention to detail, something readers of Kate Atkinson will have become used to in her books. Fan-bloody-tastic!
It is the Edinburgh Festival, and the opening scene takes place in a street with a queue to go into one of the Fringe venues; a rear-ender between two cars swiftly escalates into a brutal attack. We meet a couple of the principals straight away, but the real star quality of this book is the way Kate Atkinson brings together a completely disparate group of characters who all become involved in some way in the story, often unpredictably, and links their experiences chapter by chapter to create a truly multi-faceted novel.
Including – a dodgy millionaire developer and his wife Gloria; a successful crime writer who basically lives in his imagination with a nameless yet perfect imaginary Stepford wife; an assortment of ladies of Eastern European origin who look like each other; an independently minded single Scottish policewoman with an ancient and beloved cat and a teenage son who shoplifts; a past his use by date comedian… and Jackson Brodie, ex cop/PI, and his actress girlfriend, to name a few. Plus Honda Man.
It is a brilliant read on so many levels. The language used in a book is so important for me – I think Thomas Hardy’s enduring success is because he was able to write beautiful prose and yet allow his characters to express their true voices in their sentences – and I think Kate Atkinson has achieved the same here.
I thoroughly recommend this book. I have Mum’s copy, read by her in 2008, to gift forward – as always, please get in touch via the Facebook page or Instagram if you would like it – but if it’s gone by the time you read this – find it anyway, it’s fabulous!