Human Croquet

Human Croquet

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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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Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 126 x 196 x 32mm | 320g
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Black Swan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 055299619X
  • 9780552996198
  • 26,829

Review quote

"Vivid, richly imaginative, hilarious and frightening by turns" Observer "Huge, exhilarating, loving and detailed eruption of a utterly intoxicating display of novelistic elan...big and joyous, literary and accessible...storytelling at its buoyant best" The Scotsman "Wonderfully eloquent and forceful Kate Atkinson goes at the same pace in her second novel as she did in her first...welcome back, wild north-easter...brilliant and engrossing" Evening Standard "Vivid and intriguing...fizzles and crackles along...a tour de force" Independent "Part ghost story, part murder mystery, this is an exquisitely written, literary novel that reads as compellingly as any thriller" Cosmopolitan

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About Kate Atkinson

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.

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Review Text

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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