‘Human Croquet’ by Kate Atkinson

atkinson_humancroquet

1999, 352 P.

Kate Atkinson is one of our favourite authors amongst The Ladies Who Say Oooh, a.k.a. my CAE bookgroup. We have read five of her books over the last ten years or so. I first encountered Kate Atkinson with Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and that book stood out for me as a 10/10 read.  After that, I read Emotionally Weird and was disappointed, because it felt like a re-hash of her earlier book.  I was quite sure that I had read Human Croquet years ago and found it similarly derivative, but I can’t find any sign of it in my reading journals which predate this blog.

So, convinced that I was reading this for the second time, I found myself pleasantly surprised by Human Croquet. It is similar to Behind the Scenes in that in this case there is a missing mother, and the grief and questions that follow the disappearance of a person.  Atkinson picks up on the same multiple realities/time warp themes that she would use again in Life After Life and A God in Ruins. She writes of  a white-bread, Blytonesque 1960s England that is familiar to Australian readers of a certain age, but it’s a darker world with incest and abuse. There’s a lot going on here: Shakespeare, the lost forests of Olde England, the theatrical stage, destiny and timetravelling. It’s too convoluted to even try to explain what the plotline is, but there most definitely is one, even though it has been embroidered with other possible scenarios and counterfactuals.

I’ve looked through my other reviews of Atkinson’s books here in the blog, and I’m becoming Atkinsonesque myself in my sense of deja vu when reading her second book here. I do enjoy the experience of reading her books, but there’s a sameness about them that is becoming rather stale.

My rating: While reading it, 8.5.  Thinking about it afterwards: 7.

Source: CAE bookgroups.

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4 responses to “‘Human Croquet’ by Kate Atkinson

  1. I buy job lots of second hand books and I’m sure there’s a Kate Atkinson amongst them. I’m intrigued now to compare it with your review. But speaking of Blytonesque, I saw in my local library last week ‘Famous Five Give Up the Grog’ (something like that) with all the usual illustrations and front cover.

  2. I wasn’t a big fan of Behind the Scenes which I read with my book club a few years ago but I did really like Life After Life. I started listening to A God in Ruins on audio last year but it didn’t work for me. I’m still keen to give it a go in hard copy.

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