Friday, October 10, 2008

When Will There be Good News?

I'm a big fan of Kate Atkinson - especially her "early" work, which is really gothic and beautiful. Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995, and won the Whitbread Book of the Year) is really terrific, as are Emotionally Weird and her book of short stories, Not the End of the World.

When Will There be Good News is sort of a continuation of her previous book, Case Histories, vaguely centered around a character named Jackson Brodie, a former-police detective. I think both of those books are good, but, they almost border on having too many characters. I find it difficult to keep them straight - although that might be purposeful. Most of the characters, particularly in this latest book, all have something in common, which is that, for them, it's just one damn thing after another. Unfortunately I've had a couple of periods like that myself, so I could really relate. The title made perfect sense to me, the minute I saw it - it's that sentiment that (JESUS CHRIST) WHEN will something GOOD happen?!?

I think Atkinson is a wonderful writer, and she's also a very British writer. When Will There Be Good News is full of snippets of old English poetry and songs. I really like her sensibility, she's clearly a feminist, and a lot of her books address violence toward women... women who find strength. She also writes a good mystery - surprises me every time.

I do hope that she leaves behind the whole Jackson Brodie business for her next book, for some reason this kind of seriality gets old for me. It's not, by the way, necessary to read Case Histories before this one. I was very fuzzy on the details myself, but it doesn't matter.

There's an excerpt of the first chapter (you'll be hooked!) on her website.

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