Rolling over with the big sky

14 12 2019

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson



Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son Nathan and ageing Labrador Dido, both at the discretion of his former partner Julia. It’s a picturesque setting, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.

Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, seems straightforward, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network—and back into the path of someone from his past. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking new novel, both sharply funny and achingly sad, by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.

This latest Jackson Brodie novel from Kate Atkinson has been a long time coming but was well worth the wait. Brodie is a terrific character with all the complexities you would expect from an ageing private investigator. Atkinson writes exceptionally well and the plotting is great making this a thoroughly entertaining read.


four stars

Verbatim reporting

11 05 2019

Transcription by Kate Atkinson


In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever.

Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.


It’s a great idea for a novel and Atkinson evokes the wartime home front and the post-war era extremely well. The plot is a smart one too and the tedium and detail of Juliet’s transcription work cleverly represented. Kate Atkinson writes exceptionally well and her books are always a pleasure to read. This one through doesn’t quite fly in the way some of her others have but still well worth a go.


1 01 2017

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson


A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the twentieth century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction.

Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own. Few will dispute that it proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age.

I do think Atkinson is a very good writer indeed and this is another really impressive novel. It’s clever, witty, poignant in places and a really good read. Just struggle a little to match the book to the hype of some of the reviews. But not really ruined…



What news?

23 11 2010

When will there be good news? By Kate Atkinson

In a quiet corner of rural Devon, a six-year-old girl witnesses an appalling crime. Thirty years later the man convicted of the crime is released from prison. In Edinburgh, sixteen-year-old Reggie, wise beyond her years, works as a nanny for a G.P. But her employer has disappeared with her baby, and Reggie seems to be the only person who is worried. Across town, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Monroe is also looking for a missing person, unaware that hurtling towards her is a former acquaintance – Jackson Brodie – himself on a journey that is about to be fatally interrupted.

As reviewers have noted there are rather a lot of coincidences in here which are key to the plot. Significant suspension of disbelief required therefore but it is still nevertheless an entertaining and diverting read.

Museum piece

2 10 2009

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson


From the back cover:

Ruby Lennox was conceived grudgingly by Bunty and born while her father, George, was in the Dog and Hare in Doncaster telling a woman in an emerald dress and a D-cup that he wasn’t married. Bunty had never wanted to marry George, but here she was, stuck in a flat above the pet shop in an ancient street beneath York Minster, with sensible and sardonic Patrica aged five, greedy cross-patch Gillian who refused to be ignored, and Ruby…Ruby tells the story of The Family, from the day at the end of the nineteenth century when a travelling French photographer catches frail beautiful Alice and her children, like flowers in amber, to the startling, witty, and memorable events of Ruby’s own life.

Rapturously received first novel this and one that I did enjoy but perhaps not quite as much as I had hoped. Whilst there are many entertaining and compelling characters in the family cast the episodic and slightly uneven and disjointed nature of the tales as they jump across the generations made matters (and the family tree) rather difficult to follow at times. Still, very well written and a pleasure to read although subsequent novels are stronger I think.

3 star

Case Histories

9 05 2009

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson


From the blurb:

Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet – Lost on the left, Found on the right – and the two never seem to balance. Jackson has never felt at home in Cambridge, and has a failed marriage to prove it. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, he attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected…

And according to the Guardian this is:


It is pretty good and Kate Atkinson does write extremely lucidly. The interweaving of the various plot lines is handled really well and makes for a pacy and entertaining tale. More than just a detective story but the case for immediate re-reading is perhaps over-stated…

3 star

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