Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite authors (Life After Life is possibly my favourite book EVER) and I thought I’d read all of her books, so I was pleasantly surprised recently to discover a couple that I hadn’t read, including Human Croquet.

Set in the 1960s, It is the story of 16 year old Isobel Fairfax, an awkward and often lonely teenager raised variously by her mother, father, aunt, grandmother and stepmother.

Her mother disappeared when she was a child and she and her brother, Charles, wait for her return and never give up hope that she will come back.

Isobel starts to slip in and out of different parts of her life, at first momentarily, but then for longer periods, until she is no longer sure what is ‘real’. Who will be alive and who will be dead today? Unable to tell anyone about this phenomenon, she fears she may be going mad.

After a very weird epilogue (don’t be put off by it, it gets so much better!), the book moves between present and past, so the reader can piece together a little of the life of Isobel’s mother, Eliza. Eliza was mysterious, maybe too adventurous for Isobel’s staid father, Gordon, and definitely too exotic for her aunt and grandmother.

Kate Atkinson really is a brilliant writer and this is another very special book from her. Her writing is unlike anyone else’s I’ve read and, although a literary novel, it isn’t particularly hard to read and is both moving and at times humorous. Anyone who has read Life After Life will recognise the time travel elements of Human Croquet.

If you want to get your teeth into book which is entertaining, but also has a lot of substance, I would strongly recommend Human Croquet. In fact, I would strongly recommend any of Kate Atkinson’s novels (but do read Life After Life before A God in Ruins).

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Author: Sarah Mummy

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12 Comments

  1. This sounds like a book to get you thinking! I’ll admit I haven’t read anything from this author before. Would you see this one as a good introduction to her work? #readwithme

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    • Her books are all quite different (although she does have a small detective series), so you can really start anywhere! Either this, Behind the Scenes at the Museum or Life After Lufe would be a good place to start.

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    • She is an amazing author. I can definitely recommend any of her books.

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  2. I have read several of Kate Atkinson’s books and loved them all. I haven’t heard of this one, thanks for the tip about getting through the epilogue.

    #ReadWithMe

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    • She does write amazing books, doesn’t she? Thinking on it, I think a few of them have slightly weird epilogues.

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    • Thanks very much, it really is!

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  3. This sounds like such a complex but really intriguing story. I’ve only read one of Kate Atkinson’s books before and I really enjoyed it so I definitely need to read more.
    #readwithme

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    • I would definitely recommend them, she is an amazing writer!

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    • She is an amazing author and this is a really unusual book. I would definitely recommend it!

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