Kate Atkinson achieved great fame for her book Life After Life. This is one of her earlier and lesser known collections of short stories. I have to admit I never got into Life After Life, so I was a bit dubious about whether or not I would like this one. However, I was absolutely transfixed by this mesmerising, delightful, dark and bizarre selection of stories. The stories duck and weave in and out of time-shifts in Ancient Greece and modern day Scotland. This is sharp, witty and urbane writing with an ancient Greek twist, it’s really enjoyable.
The stories all vary but seem to have some common threads, the centrepiece characters are living in tumultuous family situations. They all seem to be reaching critical moments of reckoning and realisation about the other people in their lives or other destructive forces in their lives. These short stories are all about the seismic shifts that happen invisibly in people’s inner lives. Also there is a nice poetic metaphor in how Atkinson uses the Greek myths and ancient gods to illustrate crises, drama and chaos in a variety of ways and how this manifests itself in people’s lives.
I am now really keen to get into her series of thrillers set in Edinburgh, one of my favourite cities. I guess you could say that Not the End of the World was a gateway drug into her past work. I am happy to go along for the ride! Have you read Kate Atkinson’s work? If so what did you think.
“That was the one thing June had been terrified of having – a standard life, an ordinary life, a life like her parents’ – living in a pink sandstone semi-detached villa in the suburbs with a neat garden and an en-suite master bedroom with fitted wardrobes”
― Kate Atkinson, Not the End of the World