When Will There be Good News?

by Kate Atkinson | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 9780552772457 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingmiketrollwing on 3/12/2009
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4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingmiketrollwing on Thursday, March 12, 2009
It's always a great pleasure to read Kate Atkinson. In this one, a blurb quote has the Sunday Telegraph saying, "Atkinson's genius is her sure control of plot." In fact that's precisely what she doesn't have, but it hardly matters. She has a wonderful ear for dialogue, the clichés and formulae people use to negotiate life. She loves to highlight these with ironic quotation marks. Almost at the off, she delivers one of her trademark vignettes:

" The bus dropped them on the big road and then carried on to somewhere else. It was 'a palaver' getting them all off the bus. Their mother held Joseph under one arm like a parcel and with her other hand she struggled to open out his newfangled buggy. Jessica and Joanna shared the job of lifting the shopping off the bus. The dog saw to himself. 'No one ever helps,' their mother said. 'Have you noticed that?' They had.
'Your father's country fucking idyll,' their mother said as the bus drove away in a blue haze of fumes and heat. 'Don't you swear,' she added automatically, 'I'm the only person allowed to swear.' "

In just a few lines, Kate Atkinson delivers the family set-up, gift-wrapped. It's this kind of writing that grips the reader in her brilliant first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I scarcely remember the story, only its rich portrayal of family relationships. Atkinson has since struck a rich vein, especially among female readers, with her hero Jackson Brodie, former police detective. In her Brodie stories, Case Histories, One Good Turn and now WWTBGN?, she slips north of the border to Edinburgh, the pace and black humour of her narrative echoing Brookmyre at his best.

But it's still Atkinson's character portrayal and dialogue that lift her above the normal run of crime story writers. Her plots rely far too much on coincidence to be seriously plausible, but the reader is having too much fun to care. Still, I wonder how good she could be if she really worked at the weft of her plot?

In WWTBGN? we meet Dr Joanne Hunter, Edinburgh GP, working mother and husband of Glasgow wheeler-dealer, Neil Hunter. Joanna is happy to adopt her husband's name to distance herself from her past. As the small child, Joanna Mason. she survived a frenzied knife attack in which her mother and siblings were slaughtered by the maniacal Andrew Decker in a country lane. This episode is disturbingly reminiscent of the real life killings in which Josie Russell was the little girl survivor who won the nation's admiration.

Then there is Louise, police detective and also party to a shaky marriage. (As she says coldly to the girl from the insurance company, 'Detective Chief Inspector Monroe. Not Mrs Brennan.' Louise is protective of Alison Needler, whose ex-husband David is a serious threat to Alison's safety. She also grows concerned for Joanna when Andrew Decker is released from jail after serving 30 years of a "life" term.

But the real hero of this novel is none of the above. It is Joanna's nanny, Reggie (Regina) Chase, 16-years-old and looking all of 12. Reggie is bright, sassie, courageous, kind-hearted and generous, completely lacking in self pity. Reggie is 'Half child, half unstoppable force of nature.' She contradicts her impoverished background by studying Latin and Greek in preparation for a degree course in Classics. Meanwhile her sociopathic teenage brother Billy is into drugs and crime, hell-bent on self-destruction.

Jackson Brodie inevitably plays a less heroic part by becoming a train crash victim. His life is saved by Reggie, who gives him CPR at the crash site. Thereafter, (no spoilers) there are more coincidences as the lives of these characters intertwine. Kate Atkinson works all these plot elements into a nice neat pretzel, and the reader is not in the least bothered that it feels a tad contrived. Great fun! I look forward to reading more of Atkinson's work.


Journal Entry 2 by wingmiketrollwing at Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, March 30, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (3/31/2009 UTC) at Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom

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Mailed to Phoenix-Flight.

Journal Entry 3 by Phoenix-Flight from Apeldoorn, Gelderland Netherlands on Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Just arrived! Thank you Miketroll! I look forward to trying this, it sounds interesting (and I love the title). I've never read anything by Kate Atkinson before I think. New author to try!

Journal Entry 4 by Phoenix-Flight at - Ergens in de provincie, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Thursday, March 22, 2012
I've tried getting into this book several times now, but this isn't really my type of book I think, it just won't grab me. I've taken it from my pile TBRead and placed on pile TBReleased, to give it a chance to find a more appreciative reader.

Journal Entry 5 by Phoenix-Flight at - Ergens in de provincie, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Friday, July 04, 2014
This book will be sent on as a RABCK to someone who has it on their wishlist :)

Journal Entry 6 by Phoenix-Flight at RABCK, by mail -- Controlled Releases on Friday, July 04, 2014

Released 4 yrs ago (7/17/2014 UTC) at RABCK, by mail -- Controlled Releases

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Hope it reaches bookworm-lady well and she'll enjoy it :)

Journal Entry 7 by wingBookworm-ladywing at Madrid, Madrid Spain on Friday, July 18, 2014
And here it is!
Thank you sooo much for sending this WishList book to me, I really appreciate it, and I'm looking forward to reading it.
Thanks for the lovely postcard from The Netherlands as well; looking forward to visiting your country in the future!

Journal Entry 8 by wingBookworm-ladywing at Madrid, Madrid Spain on Thursday, September 29, 2016
Currently reading it; so far, a terrific start!
Reserved to the winner of the INTL Rabck Sweepstakes July-August; it will arrive a little late, but it is in her WishList.

Journal Entry 9 by wingBookworm-ladywing at Madrid, Madrid Spain on Tuesday, October 18, 2016
I really, really enjoyed this novel, and it made for many evenings of pleasurable reading.
Ms Atkinson really knows how to bring characters to life; I coincide with miketroll, the real heroine of the story is Reggie, the nanny... Having worked as a nanny in London myself, this certainly rings a bell...
And I love the Edinburgh setting, one of my favourite cities in the world, where I expect to return soon...

A little quote I loved:
"The place was deserted. Not a light on, not a cat out."

Thanks for granting this wish, Phoenix-Flight; the novel will soon continue its travel to the hands of another (I expect) avid reader.

Journal Entry 10 by wingBookworm-ladywing at Madrid, Madrid Spain on Monday, October 24, 2016

Released 2 yrs ago (10/24/2016 UTC) at Madrid, Madrid Spain

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Sent to the winner of the Summer INTL RABCK Sweeps, who has it in her WishList.
Sorry for taking so long; I expect you will enjoy reading it as much as I did. :)

Journal Entry 11 by KaleLewin at Oxford, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, November 01, 2016
Recieved as a prize for the International RABCK Sweeps, many thanks

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