- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 3 hours and 6 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Abridged
- Publisher: Random House AudioBooks
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 31 Dec. 2009
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003836AFA
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Human Croquet Audiobook – Abridged
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The location and period setting at the beginning is very unusual for a novel and worked very well in the context of the rest of the book.
I loved that, as the reader, I felt completely inside Isobel's head with all the little thoughts and worries that she has, along with the way that she deals with the time travelling events that seem to happen around her.
Time is an important theme of the book and the jumping between Present and Past throughout the book gives support to Isobel's strange experiences of time travel.
I enjoyed the technique of showing Eliza's speech in italics which had the effect of showing her as a magical, mysterious person.
The tone of the book seems to change in the middle and it became more franctic and "madder". Once I changed my approach to the reading then I enjoyed the ending but I did find the change unsettling at first.
It was a book where it helped to be familiar with Atkinson’s style. It was written between Behind the scenes at the museum and Life after Life
And thematically the three novels follow each other and develop the underlying themes as they go. That is not to say that the novels are a trilogy, the characters are not the same. Not the same in the story sense, but they are the same in the sense of a representative type. Atkinson does not disappoint, as always, her characters are appalling , unlikeable people, horribly flawed. Characters just like us readers and the people with whom we come into contact every day. Characters that have dark thoughts and inexplicable corners of the mind where reality and imagination merge to form alternative realities.
Human Croquet runs riot on the theme of alternative realities as a precursor to Life after Life and gives the protagonist a more active role in the ‘time skip’ and family history theme than she had in Behind the Scenes.
I found it a more challenging read than both other novels, so a newcomer to Atkinson might be a bit confused and find it hard going, not to say unsatisfactory. One really has to ‘get’ Atkinson’s style to appreciate the finesse and genius of the writing. Sentence by sentence it is beautiful stand alone prose, sentences put together to make sense of a plot requires memory and analysis of the prose sentence by sentence. But it is worth the work. If one was expecting a novel of historical fiction or romance, forget it. The historical background is incidental to the themes of the psychological study of the time dimension, the horribly flawed human condition, predestination, abandonment, alienation and general futility of life. It is overtly brutal in some places, more subtly so in others which make these more disturbing.
The imagery sometimes feels overdone, but on reflection, this is not so, it has many layers and levels that can easily be missed. The woods, the forest and the trees are the real story, the characters are the trees.
Some may find the ending device unsatisfactory and a disappointment. At first I would have agreed with this, even let out and audible groan. However, on reading on to the concluding chapters I realised that I had missed the utter brilliance of the underlying imagery. So much so, I have gone back to the beginning to re-read, and in doing so, am amazed at the absolute jaw dropping integrity of the whole novel.
These Atkinson novels are always worth a few reads to really appreciate the nuances and how it is all put together. While many readers would not think it worth the study, others will find them almost life changing, and many will even find some psychological reassurance.
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Most recent customer reviews
Life After Life - Fantastic
God In Ruins - Superb
Human Croquet - Mmmmm