Author Spotlight: Kate Atkinson
Having fallen completely in love with Kate Atkinson after reading Life After Life, I thought I would revisit her earlier works. A Costa award winner, Atkinson’s works have gained huge acclaim, from Behind the Scenes at the Museum to her Jackson Brodie series (adapted for TV with the divine Jason Isaacs). So what should you be reading to get the full Kate Atkinson experience?
It’s no surprise that Life After Life is first up. This incredible novel absolutely transfixed me when I read it. It tells the story of Ursula, destined to live her life over and over again, each time in different ways, as she survives (or doesn’t) some of the biggest events of the early 21st Century. It draws on every aspect of humanity and elegantly unpicks it and restructures it with poetic, eloquent language. In fact, talking about it wants to make me re-read it!
“Sometimes it was harder to change the past than it was the future.” — Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
Next up is the title that you’ll probably most recognise after Life After Life. It’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum. It’s different from her other work (one of the beauties of Atkinson is her versatility) and tells the story of one family from the point of view of the youngest, Ruby – from her feckless father, disillusioned mother and unique and powerful sisters. It’s clever and funny and devastatingly sharp which is tinged with sadness.
And lastly I’ve chosen the first of the Jackson Brodie series – Case Histories. Jackson Brodie is your typical flawed hero, with a drinking and smoking problem, a brooding stare and a great mind. Brodie feels out of place in Cambridge, a failed marriage, previous career as a police inspector, and family tragedy behind him, the private investigator starts to look in to three separate cases… but, as with anything, he soon realises that everything is connected…
If you like crime, you’ll love this. If you’ve never read crime, you’ll still love this. It’s an instantly accessible read, and Brodie is a magnetic protagonist (it helps when you picture him as Jason Isaacs…)
If you still can’t get enough of Kate Atkinson, try her collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, or three more Jackson Brodie mysteries to get your teeth in to. Her other two novels – Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird – are as insightful and haunting as the rest of her works.