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Description - Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson

Once it had been the great forest of Lythe - a vast and impenetrable thicket of green.And here, in the beginning, lived the Fairfaxes, grandly, at Fairfax Manor, visited once by the great Gloriana herself. But over the centuries the forest had been destroyed, replaced by Streets of Trees.The Fairfaxes have dwindled too; now they live in 'Arden' at the end of Hawthorne Close and are hardly a family at all. But Isobel Fairfax, who drops into pockets of time and out again, knows about the past. She is sixteen and waiting for the return of her mother - the thin, dangerous Eliza with her scent of nicotine, Arpege and sex, whose disappearance is part of the mystery that still remains at the heart of the forest.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780552996198
ISBN-10: 055299619X
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 127mm x 28mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Black Swan
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 7-Mar-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson

UK Kirkus Review » Atkinson soared to literary fame by beating Salman Rushdie to the 1995 Whitbread Prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. This, her second, shows her writing skills were not spent in that first outpouring. It starts with the beginning of the world and ends when time stops. In between, Isobel and Charles Fairfax lose their mother in the forest of Lythe. They don't know how she disappeared, but she doesn't come back. A microcosmic (and splendid) examination of universal themes: birth, death, love and hatred. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Atkinson's follow-up to her Whitbread-winning Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1996) is a self-consciously smart and mildly amusing family saga. Isobel Fairfax, age 16, narrates the busy goings-on at Fairfax Manor, an ostensibly cursed mock-Tudor in a suburb in northern England - although the events she describes may well be fantasies, embellished with tidbits from Shakespeare and Ovid and whatever else she's reading in school. The Fairfax family, as Isobel presents them, is a wildly dysfunctional cast of caricatures: There's sour Aunt Vinnie, who's always draped in cats; brother Charles, who's obsessed with alien abductions; and ineffectual dad Gordon and his plump second wife Debbie, who imagines that the sausages she's about to barbecue are moving about on their plate. When Isobel is not deep in lustful thoughts about Malcolm, the local gynecologist's son, she time-travels and has brief and remarkably uneventful interludes in earlier eras. And both she and Charles desperately miss their long-disappeared mum, Eliza. World War II hero Gordon plucked glamorous Eliza from the rubble of a London bombing, then brought her home to the Manor, where his widowed mother and Vinnie criticized her every move. Although besotted with his wife, Gordon couldn't break with his mother, and the marriage was strained. During a picnic, Charles and Isobel were left alone, only to toddle upon the body of their mother: Did Gordon kill her before disappearing for seven years to avoid the law, leaving his kids to repress the memory and get brought up by Vinnie? This is only one of many hyperventilating mysteries that Isobei sifts through: violent deaths, stolen babies, and sexual peccadilloes galore crowd Fairfax family history. Isobel's semi-jaded wisecracking serves up some mild laughs, but this exercise in over-deliberated cleverness, while never dull, is ultimately more exhausting than engaging. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her four bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Another novel, Life After Life, was the winner of the Costa Novel Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize. It was also voted Book of the Year for the independent booksellers associations on both sides of the Atlantic. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List, and was voted Waterstones UK Author of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards.

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