Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Masterful and well-written family history
on 14 July 2017
I was intrigued by the positive reviews for tis book having really enjoyed both "A god in ruins" and "Life after life." An earlier novel, there was a sense when I read the first couple of chapters that this book seemed like an earlier attempt to cover many of the same topics but the book soon develops a character of it's own. There is not really a plot other than to chronicle the life of the main protagonist Ruby and example how her life was shaped to a degree by earlier generations of her family. Taking a non-linear approach to story-telling, the novel remains hugely compelling largely through Atkinson's witty and entertaining prose but it is fair to say that the way that the numerous strands of the stories concerning each generation eventually come together make this effort a kind of masterpiece.
I am at a loss with regard to the negative reviews of this book since the whole tome has a happy knack of making even the mundane and even tragic seem amusing. In her notes, the author suggests that this book is really a paean to York and if this picturesque city does feature heavily, it is fair to say that the colourful characters Kate Atkinson has drawn seem far more realistic. In many ways the lives of the characters in this book are either unfulfilled or somewhat tragic. However, I felt that they were drawn sympathetically and often in a humorous fashion, none more so that Ruby's somewhat dysfunctional parents. This author is hugely entertaining and manages to capture a host of historical events from the 20th century as diverse as the Great War and the 1966 World Cup final yet the more ordinary occasions also resonate with the last minute holiday in Whitby being a highlight in the book.
Like her other books, this novel is not particularly aimed at either men or women and I think it is something that most people would relish. For me, the beauty of this book is how seemingly insignificant issues or elements within the story resonate in the future and how parts of the story are not necessarily narrated accurately by members of particular generations. Ultimately, there are a couple of stings in the tail towards the end of the book which you might not necessarily see coming and I felt a somewhat of a loss when I had finished this book and said goodbye to the extended Lennox family.