|Author Kate Atkinson|
It's all about love and loss. In Case Histories the four sisters were beautifully drawn and to say anything about them would be to give away too much; Sylvia, the leader is the ugly duckling who hears the voice of God and Joan of Arc and has fainting fits; attention-seeking Julia, the outrageous flirt seems to have bagged Brodie and discarded him for another by the next book, Amelia, more bookish has a crush on him and poor Olivia, their mother's favourite, at the age of three, is murdered.
Theo is morbidly obese and dotes on Laura, one of his two daughters who agrees to work in his law practice before university. She is brutally murdered in his offices by a knife-wielding maniac and Theo spends the rest of his life trying to find the murderer before turning the job over to Jackson.
Michelle, a housewife lives in a country cottage with her baby and husband and is secretly studying. In a moment of madness when interrupted, she murders him with an axe.
Jackson, meanwhile, has been hired to follow Nicola, whose husband thinks she's cheating on him and here and there we follow Jackson's own turbulent private life so we don't regard him as an automaton and are aware that he's a real person with emotional problems of his own.
So you can see how complex his task is going to be with a dramatis personae that long and yours too if you haven't already read it. I'm still halfway through the second book but am finding it even more difficult to follow than this one and haven't made a note of anything, having developed right arm rotator cuff impairment from hunkering over the keyboard for too long without a break, hence my absence from the blog for a while.
At The Guardian Hay Festival in 2009, Atkinson said that she would prefer to have enough money just to write books and not have to write for publication. A lot of my past students say they want to write so they can go into bookshops and see the spines of their books lined up on the shelves showing their names, or because they have boring jobs in IT and think the life of a writer would be more exciting, or they want to be the next JK Rowling, or they want to be rich and famous. How refreshing to hear an author actually saying that they write for the love of writing, which is the reason most of us do this; anything else is a bonus.
http://www.kateatkinson.co.uk/ has lots of resources and help for reading groups.