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 do enjoy the experience of reading her books, but there’s a sameness about them that is becoming rather stale.
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Better even than her award-winning first novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum, this is a magical novel which in turn reads like a mystery, a family saga and a fairy tale. Although the theme is one of loss and longing it has (suprisingly) some of the funniest dialogue I have encountered in ages.
Prepare to suspend all disbelief and embrace the sublimely absurd. Atkinson has a gift for taking the mundane, tragic and sort of creepy and turning it into a farcical fairy tale.
I finished the book 2 days ago but I'm still thinking about her characters and what they might be up to.
Brilliant & hilarious, with a touch of irreverence to add to gleeful enjoyment. Some digressions go on too long, approaching tedium; most are startlingly original and witty.
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