One shouldn’t especially like a book because it is based in one’s home town, should one?
Or is that lovely insider feeling of “Yes, of course, I remember that building,” or “Yes, yes, that is exactly the way it used to feel” reason enough to love a book ?
Oh, the latter, I feel.
Already a fan of Kate Atkinson, her 2010 novel “Started early, Took my Dog” was a wonderful follow-on read.
Set in her (and your reviewer’s) beloved Yorkshire, the book is funny and moving and exciting and well-written, and my home town of Leeds has possibly never had such eloquent prose ever written about it.
Ms Atkinson is a skilled weaver together of different stories. There is Jackson Brodie, the ultimate thinking woman’s thinking man – battle scarred, fragile inside, but on the outside as tough as the Yorkshire moors.
There is Tracy Waterhouse, whose journey of self discovery is funny and moving and fraught with dangers.
There is Tilly, an ageing actress, long since her prime and teetering on the bring of dementia, as she tries to stay abreast of her role in a sit-com.
As each of these story lines progresses, you know, deep down inside, that their paths will converge, but you cannot immediately work it all out.
And then there are Courtney and the dog, 2 waifs who end up as part of the literal and emotional baggage of their new parents.
There are lovely moments of written splendour :
“He had the kind of Yorkshire accent that Tracy though of as ‘aspirational’ “(that was one of my “I know exactly how he sounds” moments)
There is a deliciously un-delicious description of a “full Yorkshire breakfast” in a drab B & B where Jackson stays:
“Nothing discernibly Yorkshire about the breakfast at all. Jackson didn’t know what he’d expected – Yorkshire pudding, a symbolic white rose cut into the toast perhaps – but instead there was the usual fry-up consisting of flabby slices of bacon, a pale, glassy egg, mushrooms like slugs and a sausage that inevitably reminded him of a dog turd.”
Kate Atkinson captures the atmosphere of the pretty holiday town of Whitby. Yet again, there were many “Yes, that is exactly how it is!!” moments. Puffing up the 199 steps. The slightly tacky souvenir shops. The smell of smoked kippers. The collecting box for the Lifeboats.
The author’s eye for detail is spot-on.
Loved the book.
Loved the plot, which is intriguing and clever and ultimately surprising. Death, humour, love, hate, sadness, loss of identity, loss of memory, fear, murder, the search for who one truly is – there is hardly a human emotion that this skilled writer does not tackle in this clever book.
Loved the description of my home town, and my often harshly beautiful county, and the little seaside town where we, too, like Jackson Brodie, used to holiday as children.
You don’t have to be from Yorkshire to enjoy and devour this book, far from it, but those “Yes, that’s exactly how it was” moments are pretty special.
“Started Early, Took my dog” is published by Black Swan, and the paperback costs £7.99.
If you now feel like buying this book (and it is a great read), then just click on the link below :