I’m giving this book a five star rating. Having stated that, I’ll also tell you that when I finished this book, I went to amazon.com and read all of the one star ratings (the worst) by readers, and I pretty much agreed with all of them. How is such a thing possible? Well, you really can’t explain such a concept or idea, unless you’ve actually read a Kate Atkinson novel.
First, Kate Atkinson’s books, while not really necessarily depressing, are certainly filled with depressing people. I’m thoroughly convinced after reading several of her books, that this author had a pretty miserable, warped childhood. When all you know is heartache, depression, and trauma, how can you really be expected to write about anything else? She always injects humorous observations and witty descriptions throughout the pages, which makes you laugh out loud at the same time as you’re reading about the lives of these sad lugs.
Next, we must remember that Atkinson’s strength is writing about people and their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. She doesn’t necessarily tell a linear story. This book was labeled as the first of one of her many “Jackson Brodie Novels”. Jackson Brodie is a detective, yet these books are not in the traditional “whodunnit” vein. If you’re looking for a good mystery novel, the Jackson Brodie series probably shouldn’t be your first choice.
Yes, this book does have a few crime investigations running through it. We get a missing child, a random murder of a child, and, what could be described as an “ax murder”. What’s unique is that these incidents happen in different times and in different places, and Atkinson’s skilled writing manages to somehow make all of these situations current, which is when we meet Jackson Brodie. Jackson (obviously) is just as miserable as all of the people affected by all of these tragedies. He had a rotten childhood, a rotten marriage, manages to get beat up a lot, and on and on and on.
Once we arrive at the book’s conclusion, many were disappointed at the abruptness of the finale, and felt that things were thrown together to conveniently to appear the slightest bit realistic. Those observations are correct. As stated, though, this book is about people and not necessarily events.
If you have the stomach for books such as this (and I haven’t even discussed the foul language, the sex, the suicides, etc.), you’ll probably find it enjoyable as I did. I’ll probably have to wait several months before I read the next book by this author. And when I do, I’ll ensure to have some Prozac handy.