Emotionally Weird

Emotionally Weird

Book rating: 05 Paperback Black Swan

By (author) Kate Atkinson

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  • Publisher: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback | 496 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 34mm | 360g
  • Publication date: 26 June 2001
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 055299734X
  • ISBN 13: 9780552997348
  • Illustrations note: Illustr.
  • Sales rank: 28,990

Product description

On a peat and heather island off the west coast of Scotland, Effie and her mother Nora take refuge in the large mouldering house of their ancestors and tell each other stories.Nora, at first, recounts nothing that Effie really wants to hear, like who her father was - variously Jimmy, Jack, or Ernie. Effie tells of her life at college in Dundee, the land of cakes and William Wallace, where she lives in a lethargic relationship with Bob, a student who never goes to lectures, seldom gets out of bed, and to whom the Klingons are as real as the French and the Germans (more real than the Luxemburgers).But strange things are happening. Why is Effie being followed?Is someone killing the old people? And where is the mysterious yellow dog?

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Author information

Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been a critically acclaimed international author ever since. Her bestselling novels featuring the former police detective Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog, have been adapted into a successful BBC TV series starring Jason Isaacs. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 02 Sep 2014 5

Emotionally Weird is the third stand-alone novel by award-winning British author, Kate Atkinson. It is the early seventies and twenty-one-year-old Euphemia Andrews (Effie) goes home to the family's summer holiday house on a remote west coast Scottish island where she shares stories with her mother Eleanora (Nora). Effie relates recent events in her life at University in Dundee; Nora, at first unforthcoming, begins to reveal facts about Effie's true heritage (like her real surname), eventually relating the history of the Stuart-Murray family, including the death of the aunt after whom Effie was named. In Dundee, while trying to meet essay deadlines for her English degree and thinking about leaving the incredibly lazy Bob, Effie becomes convinced she is being followed: there's this woman in a red coat; and a middle-aged ex-cop turned PI named Chick driving a white Cortina keeps turning up. There are a few deaths that may or may not be natural; several people around her believe someone is trying to kill them; her friend Terri is looking for a lost yellow dog; her tutor's son is released from prison. Effie relates the events at Dundee like a novel, with Nora interrupting to critique her characters, plot and dialogue. Similarly, Effie interjects into Nora's story-telling.
Atkinson's character descriptions (and there is a large cast) are marvellously evocative. The description of the English tutorial (obviously taken from Atkinson's own experience) is at once blindingly accurate and hilariously funny. The ongoing commentary on creative writing and the (over-)analysis of literature is clever and amusing. The atmosphere of early seventies is expertly conveyed. This is effectively a story (or several) within a story within a story, and Atkinson manages to include snippets of poetry, a play, a medieval fantasy saga, a crime novel, a metaphysical epic tome, and a Mills & Boon style romance, each printed in its own appropriate text style. While Effie's story does seem to ramble on a bit, drawing criticism from Nora, Emotionally Weird has plenty of humour (some of it quite black) and enough intrigue to keep the reader engaged to the final pages. Another excellent dose of Atkinson.

Review quote

"The lustre, energy and panache of her writing are as striking as ever...Funny, bold and memorable" -- Helen Dunmore The Times "Beautifully written...brimming with quirky characters and original storytelling. Kate Atkinson has struck gold with this unique offering" Time Out "Sends jolts of pleasure off the page...Atkinson's funniest foray yet...it is a work of Dickensian or even Shakespearean plenty" The Scotsman "Her novels are remarkable both in and of themselves, and as evidence of an important emerging body of work from a brilliant and profoundly original writer" Daily Telegraph "With just two novels, Atkinson has added new colour to the British literary landscape" Guardian

Editorial reviews

As in Behind the Scenes at the Museum and Human Croquet, Atkinson once again uses all her sorcery with language to bedazzle the reader. In essence this is a simple story. Nora and Effie (who might be mother and daughter) are living on an otherwise deserted Scottish island. They are the last of the line of Stuart-Murrays. Student Effie is recuperating from a nasty bout of flu and to relieve the tedium of rainy days and long, dark nights, they tell each other stories which might, or might not, be true. Nora's, brief and uninformative to begin with, are about the family's past ('Grand Guinol, with a pinch of Greek Tragedy'). Effie's graphic, satirical stories are set in the 1970s and revolve around student life and her shiftless friends - interspersed with chunks of her Writing Assignment, which rapidly turns into a crime novel. As always, the story is overflowing with invention, marvellous descriptions, and laugh-aloud jokes. This is, in fact, a novel with a life of its own - a book one could easily be persuaded 'wrote itself' - though on reflection it is carefully controlled, and has its own logic. And at the end all is revealed and all loose ends firmly knotted. There are many loose ends. Who is Effie's father? Who, indeed, her real mother? Who were Nora's parents? Who is following Effie when she's in Dundee and for what reason? Why are so many old people dying in the local retirement home? Don't worry, all will become transparent before the last page is - reluctantly - turned. (Kirkus UK)