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I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson

Posted by helen 
I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 15, 2019 08:44PM
I have long struggled to like Kate Atkinson's writing. I know it isn't compulsory to like her but I feel as though I am alone in not liking her work.
At a second hand book shop yesterday I bought "Case Histories" thinking I would give her another go.

I am up to page 49 and so far I have had a dear little girl (the only child in the family that the mother likes) who has pink rabbit slippers and a cuddly rabbit toy (or some other animal), snatched from her bed at night and gone.

Next there is a young woman whose father adores her (more than her other sister) and she has been stabbed badly and bleeds to death in her fathers arms.

Then the next chapter is a young mother who resents having had her baby and refers to her as it as opposed to using gender or name. She spilts her husbands head open with an axe when he makes too much noise and disturbs the baby.

All this by page 49!
Why do people read about such horrible situations and horrible people who don't like some/any of their children and have obvious favourites.
I just don't get her books, the characters always seem to unlikeable and their lives so awful.

Can anyone shed some light on the popularity of her books?
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 15, 2019 08:54PM
": Case Histories is essentially a balancing act, with evil and ignorance stacked opposite truth and healing. "

[www.theguardian.com]

This review pretty much reflects my opinion of the Jackson Brodie series, I've found some of her other fiction annoying when she plays around with the time sequence so much that I can't tell what is happening when. I like her sharp social perception and observations.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/15/2019 08:55PM by TPANDAV.
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 16, 2019 02:56AM
I've tried but failed to get past the first few pages. I almost feel guilty for not appreciating her works.
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 16, 2019 03:15AM
One you and me both.
Guilt was what made me pick up this book and give it a chance.

Tpandav thanks for the review. I think I find her characters so flawed that I just can't like them.
I know people are flawed but she doesn't seem to dwell on the positive characteristics.


I will keep reading for another night and see where I get to.
Right now though it is confirming my dislike of her writing.
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 16, 2019 02:56PM
Life is too precious to waste time reading a book we don't like.
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 16, 2019 05:21PM
I have to spring to her defence! I'm a fan. Not for all of her books; Transcription was a disappointment because my expectations were too high. I love the Jackson Brodie series though! Yes there is shocking violence, I suggest that you read all of the Guardian review that TPANDAV quoted:
I suspect that this is one of those protean novels that will resonate differently according to its readers' own private tragedies: some will find the painful core of the book in the story of the lost sister, others will focus on the grief of the father for his child. Others still will take comfort from nice-guy Jackson and his drive to bring restorative truth to the wounded. But everyone who picks it up will feel compelled to follow Case Histories through to the last page - and not just for closure.
Having just read the fifth Jackson Brodie novel 'Big Sky' I am rereading the previous books. I think the Kate Atkinson who writes the Jackson B books has her tongue firmly in her cheek and has a lot of fun. Her acute observation of all layers of the complex society which makes up UK today is a delight. Superb characterisation . Laugh out loud funny. Richly allusive.
'Case Histories' must be 20 yrs old by now ... dare I suggest that you try another in the JB series?
I think 'Life After Life' and 'A God in Ruins' are brilliant.
I also endorse Annie H - life is too short/precious to persist with a book we don't like. BUT the Eng Lit/Creative Writing tutor in me wants you to try harder!
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 16, 2019 06:25PM
Stephanie39 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have to spring to her defence! I'm a fan. Not
> for all of her books; Transcription was a
> disappointment because my expectations were too
> high. I love the Jackson Brodie series though!
> Yes there is shocking violence, I suggest that you
> read all of the Guardian review that TPANDAV
> quoted:
> I suspect that this is one of those protean novels
> that will resonate differently according to its
> readers' own private tragedies: some will find the
> painful core of the book in the story of the lost
> sister, others will focus on the grief of the
> father for his child. Others still will take
> comfort from nice-guy Jackson and his drive to
> bring restorative truth to the wounded. But
> everyone who picks it up will feel compelled to
> follow Case Histories through to the last page -
> and not just for closure.
> Having just read the fifth Jackson Brodie novel
> 'Big Sky' I am rereading the previous books. I
> think the Kate Atkinson who writes the Jackson B
> books has her tongue firmly in her cheek and has a
> lot of fun. Her acute observation of all layers of
> the complex society which makes up UK today is a
> delight. Superb characterisation . Laugh out loud
> funny. Richly allusive.
> 'Case Histories' must be 20 yrs old by now ...
> dare I suggest that you try another in the JB
> series?
> I think 'Life After Life' and 'A God in Ruins' are
> brilliant.
> I also endorse Annie H - life is too
> short/precious to persist with a book we don't
> like. BUT the Eng Lit/Creative Writing tutor in me
> wants you to try harder!

I completely agree with all of this. I bought Big Sky the instant it was published and read it in about four sittings. I found Transcription hard going with all the time shifts, mainly because my knowledge of the period is too patchy to have kept up properly.

I also agree that when starting a new book, especially by an unfamiliar author, it is often necessary to persevere through the first few chapters to allow characters and situations to unfold. I find this especially the case with Kindle books, where there is no back cover to help the reader get a grip on it.

I rarely give up on a book, but I did reject The Kindly Ones after about four chapters because it was not only exceptionally nasty (a Nazi war criminal is the protagonist) but long and ponderous. My husband, who loves anything written about WW2, did not finish it either.
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 17, 2019 01:42AM
Oh Stephanie now I am in a turmoil all over again. smiling smiley
I am an avid reader and generally like titles that others recommend but I stop short at Kate Atkinson (so far).

After reading your comments I have been mulling it over and think essentially it is that I like to like or at least empathise with characters.
So far in her books (remembering that I am just being introduced to Jackson), I haven't found any that I particularly like.
I didn't like Transcription at all, Juliet absolutely annoyed me.
Years ago I read Behind the Scenes,,,, and have also read Life After Life - although some time ago.

Aargh, I don't know what I am missing but there is obviously something.
smiling smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/17/2019 01:57AM by helen.
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 17, 2019 03:43PM
Helen - no pressure! Perhaps put them aside for a time when life is throwing less at you. Jackson Brodie is rewarding escapism for me but, as you know, I am elderly (my fingers are reluctant to type *elderly*!) whereas at your stage there are multiple calls on your time, energy and emotions. How about the readers amongst us put thinking caps on to recommend other books which might entertain and transport you. X
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 17, 2019 06:45PM
Books to entertain and transport... a worthy challenge. I guess the sweet spot is somewhere between chick lit, which is usually poorly written but entertaining and unconfronting, and serious fiction, often beautifully written but can require concentration and a strong stomach.

Here are some of the authors I have been reading recently that might fit the bill (I also have a fondness for modern crime fiction, but I don't think that's what Helen wants...). Helen, you can look up these authors on Amazon to get a brief idea of their novels.

Rachel Cusk I can recommend: Kudos, Outline, Transit, Arlington Park

Melissa Harrison: At Hawthorn Time, All Among the Barley

Tessa Hadley: everything she has written

NZ authors Owen Marshall and Charlotte Grimshaw are good writers but they don't shy away from nastiness when it's appropriate.

edited to add my favourite NZ author, Shona Koea.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/17/2019 07:15PM by TPANDAV.
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 17, 2019 07:52PM
Thank you TPANDAV. Liane Moriarty writes very well indeed - superior chick lit in my book. I expect most have read them already.
Everyone seemed to love Delia Owen's 'Where the Crawdads Sing,' I didn't! But you might. I thought the plot was completely improbable.
I like Shona Koea too, even tho' there's a bit of a repetitive recipe going on. What's the one with an elephant? My favourite.
I'm looking forward to looking up TPANDAV's recommendations.
Will think on.
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 17, 2019 08:32PM
Oh yes, Liane Moriarty. I first read her when she was recommended by a friend who is a very grand academic - he said she is ideal for long haul flights. And so she is.
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 19, 2019 05:30AM
Tpandav I am a voracious reader but don't know those authors at all, I will go looking.

My favourite book in the last 12 months would have been The Lost Man - Jane Harper.
I also really liked The Dry but Force of Nature not so much.

Interesting Stephanie your comment Where The Crawdads Sing. I too found it improbable but did enjoy the read as a light chick lit kind of book.

I have just recently read Jasper Jones and really enjoyed it. It reminded me somewhat of growing up in Hokitika.

A recent read that made me smile was the latest in the Rosie Project trilogy (there are 3 aren't there?). I had 24 hours post minor day surgery where I needed to just lie back and do nothing and this book did the trick in keeping me entertained.

I think I have enjoyed pretty much everything of Maggie O'Farrell.

Liane Moriarty is good although I thought the latest book, Nine Perfect Strangers was so ridiculous and irritating. I finished it but skimmed pages and pages to get there.

Did anyone else happen to read Normal People - Sally Rooney? It has been highly praised yet I thought it was awful.
I didn't like the characters or anything much about it.

We do all have different taste.
J1
Re: I don't understand the interest in author Kate Atkinson
August 19, 2019 03:46PM
I read hardly any fiction but I read Normal People by Sally Rooney and although I liked it initially it then just went on and on and on, the same thing over and over again and I just thought bleh, doesn't rate at all (I rate my books and I gave it a 4 out of 10).

I did thoroughly enjoy The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, another fiction book I've read fairly recently.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/19/2019 03:50PM by J1.
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