Top positive review
15 people found this helpful
A daring but not wholly successful experiment
on 25 March 2013
I have read everything that Kate Atkinson has written and rate her as one of the best novelists currently at work in the UK. Every so often she writes something that goes out on a limb, and those books I usually enjoy less than the others. Emotionally weird was one such and this latest novel is another. All the classic Atkinson qualities are here - dazzling cleverness, a terrific sense of humour, deep insight into how families work (and don't) and a prose style to die for. Some of the familiar mannerisms - like the constant authorial asides and whimsical notes - are getting a bit out of control but she remains a truly rewarding read. However, the life constantly relived framework that underpins this book had the effect of distancing me from Ursula and even the members of her family. I can see how brilliantly it's assembled, and the characterization is as rich and varied as ever, but the book left me cold emotionally.
Also, there is just too much historical box ticking in this book. August 1914 tick, Spanish flu tick, general strike tick, rise of the Nazis tick, September 1939 tick, London Blitz tick, VE Day tick. And I'm sorry, but planning to assassinate Hitler was deeply disappointing, not at all worthy of Atkinson.
Still, judging by the reviews I'm very much in the minority on this book and I shall still look forward eagerly to her next one. Fond as we all are of Jackson Brodie she can't just keep producing books about him. And she does bring home the full horror of aerial bombardment better than almost anybody has.