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Case Histories : A Novel by Kate Atkinson
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Case Histories : A Novel (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Kate Atkinson

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6,016284694 (3.78)810
Member:BethArcher
Title:Case Histories : A Novel
Authors:Kate Atkinson
Info:Back Bay Books (2005), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:****
Tags:Mstery, Detective, British

Work details

Case Histories: A Novel by Kate Atkinson (2004)

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» See also 810 mentions

English (274)  Dutch (3)  French (3)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  English (283)
Showing 1-5 of 274 (next | show all)
It's a little startling to see (hear, since it's an audio book) bits of myself popping up all over this book. I bear a strong resemblance in a lot of ways to one character; another has a lot in common with me as well, though not in quite as "this is ridiculous" a way. I found myself finishing sentences in unison with the narrator – not because the writing was predictable, but because it was the way I would have written it. There's even a character whose husband gives her the nickname Caro, which is a name I use in one of my seedling novels. And more. The coincidences seemed to pile up.

I've loved the Case Histories tv series since the first time I came across them. I really, really love Jason Isaacs (and really, really wanted him to play Black Jack Randall, because he would have been magnificent). So I was both looking forward to this … and a little afraid of it, because you know a good tv series doesn't necessarily mean a good book, and vice versa. So I was very happy when the from the first disc this book engaged me, made me laugh, made me feel sympathy for the characters – and made me really, really love (or at least root for) Jackson Brodie.

The author is skilled at keeping her cards close to her chest. Near the end of one disc, while driving his daughter Marley home, Jackson gets a frantic call from one of his clients. The next scene sees him arriving at his ex-wife's fiance's house, and Marley mentions something that happened in a chapter just described, and then drops a reference to something not described, but the scene rushes on leaving just a smoky question mark in the air about that odd remark. But then comes a scene with the person who made the hysterical call, and … what happened? No way to know. It takes a little while before the scene which made me say "Ohhhhhhh…" – and while this might drive me up a wall with some books, I have to admire Kate Atkinson's skills.

I love that the book is about the fantasies all of us build in our minds about everyone in our lives, be it the thin homeless girl on the street corner that we see every now and then, or co-workers, or parents, or spouses. No one can know even a fraction of what's really going on in anyone else's head at any given time, not for sure and certain. It's kind of a wonder that we're able to communicate at all… A kind of a throwaway line that struck me was, about people seen on a riverbank by someone in a boat, "And then they were gone, beyond a bend in the river, vanishing like a dream." And that's how so many people are to one another in this book. The women who hire Jackson to look for the little sister who disappeared over thirty years ago – will they continue to feature in his life once the mystery is solved and the book ends? Who knows? Will Jackson's daughter Marley become one of the figures who disappears beyond a riverbend? Well, that one I do know the answer to, having seen several of the films, but at this point anything could happen.

The weaving together of the "case histories" of the title, the cases on which Jackson is engaged and the account of his own story past and present, is intricate and beautiful. Atkinson is a storyteller who requires patience from the reader. As mentioned before, there is no instant gratification to be found here – but the gratification, the satisfaction of the story well-told is deep.

I also loved the narrator, Susan Jameson; within the space of one commute she became a follow-anywhere voice. There were choices made throughout that took the book from a good read (listen) to an immersive, utterly believable experience. I loved this book. ( )
  Stewartry | Nov 29, 2016 |
i absolutely love the writing in this book. i marked so many passages i had to stop because seriously i wanted to tag the entire book for the writing. loved it from the first sentence (and i really love when that happens). will look forward to reading this again when my brain is more capable of focusing on things other than mourning and i can appreciate this even more.

"Sylvia, thirteen and until recently an enthusiastic child (many people would have said overenthusiastic), promised to be a mordant cynic in her teenage years. Gawky, bespectacled Sylvia, her teeth recently caged in ugly orthodontic braces, had greasy hair, a hooting laugh, and the long, thin fingers and toes of an alien from outer space. Well-meaning people called her an 'ugly duckling' (said to her face, as if it were a compliment, which was certainly not how it was taken by Sylvia), imagining a future Sylvia casting off her braces, acquiring contact lenses and a bosom, and blossoming into a swan. Rosemary did not see the swan in Sylvia, especially when she had a shred of corned beef stuck in her braces. Sylvia had recently developed an unhealthy obsession with religion, claiming that God had spoken to her (as if God would choose Sylvia). Rosemary wondered if it was a normal phase that adolescent girls went through, if God was merely an alternative to pop stars or ponies. Rosemary decide it was best to ignore Sylvia's tete-a-tetes with the Almighty. And at least conversations with God were free, whereas the upkeep on a pony would have cost a fortune."

"She should have studied science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on."

"He thought of himself as a person made almost entirely out of weaknesses rather than strengths."

"It was always embarrassing when Julia had a sneezing fit, one after the other, explosive, uncontrollable sounds, like a cannon firing. Amelia had once heard someone say that you could tell what a woman's orgasm would be like if you heard her sneeze. (As if you would want to know.) Just recollecting this thought made her uncomfortable. In case this was common knowledge, Amelia had made a point ever since then of never sneezing in public if she could help it."

i will read everything she ever writes based on this book alone. ( )
  elisa.saphier | Nov 15, 2016 |
I forgot how much I love Jackson Brodie. Like as in really love him. Like want to marry him. ( )
  jjaylynny | Nov 12, 2016 |
In Atkinson's inaugural novel in the Jackson Brodie series, the reader is introduced to the eponymous hero, former soldier and police detective, and now a private investigator. In this novel, Brodie is hired to investigate three apparently unrelated cases which occurred in Manchester, England. The first involved the disappearance of a 3-year-old, the youngest, and favorite, of four girls. The second involved the random and seemingly motiveless killing of a solicitor's daughter. The final case involves Brodie locating a daughter that was placed with another family after her mother murdered her husband with an ax. Each one has its challenges with each case not appearing to be what once first assumed. The characters in this novel are so well fleshed out, it is no wonder that the BBC filmed this book as the first of a three part series. After reading the book I'm eager to watch the series and to see how it translated to film. ( )
  John_Warner | Aug 29, 2016 |
http://tinyurl.com/hjlknd2

I should be well familiar with Atkinson's style of über-description, and not be distracted by it at the beginning of the book. I do feel like she went to the school of "go off on a tangent when you get the chance" and also the school of "don't worry, the reader will love it". Only, I don't always love it. It makes reading the book go both fast and slow. Fast because that description is always fascinating, and slow because I get irked that she is not getting to the freakin' point.

Regardless, I did enjoy the novel, even with its bizarre plot. The first three chapters throw you for a loop (don't be dissuaded by them, though), and it's not even obvious until a few more chapters in that there is a protagonist to this story, and that he will actually be a central focus. Well, central focus is putting it a bit strongly - he will be integral to the completion of the story. Well, completion may be putting it too strongly...

OK, now I'm just teasing. It is, after all, a mystery and the best mysteries are not wholly finished. Especially if one is planning a series around them. This Atkinson does in spades. I didn't love the ending - but not because the story wasn't wholly finished. I just didn't like what she ended up creating as a lifestyle for Jackson (our protagonist), as if this was what he would always have wanted. ( )
  khage | Jul 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 274 (next | show all)
We have a woman who once thought she was marrying a “great mathematician” but now finds herself—a mother of four daughters and pregnant again—wondering what her glowering husband “would look like when he was dead.”
 

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Atkinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jameson, SusanReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
Dedication
For Anne McIntyre
First words
How lucky were they? A heat wave in the middle of the school holidays, exactly where it belonged.
Quotations
She should have done science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on.
It wasn't that [he] believed in religion, or a God, or an afterlife. He just knew it was impossible to feel this much love and for it to end.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
CASE ONE:
Olivia Land, youngest and most beloved of the Land girls, goes missing in the night and is never seen again. More than thirty years later, two of her surviving sisters, each achingly lonely in her own way, reunite when their cruel and distant father dies. There, among the clutter of their childhood home, they unearth a shocking clue to Olivia's disappearance.

CASE TWO:
All of Theo's happiness is tied to his devoted daughter Laura. He delights in her wit, her effortless beauty, and her selfless love, and in the fact that she's taken a position at his prestigious law firm. But on her first day on the job, a maniac storms into the office and turns Theo's entire world upside down.

CASE THREE:
Michelle looks around one day and finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making. A very needy baby and a very demanding husband make her every waking moment a reminder that somewhere, somehow, she made a grave mistake and will spend the rest of her life paying for it — until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

As private detective Jackson Brodie investigates all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge. Jackson finds himself inextricably caught up in his clients' lives — their grief, their joy, their desire, and their unshakable need for resolution are very much like his own.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316010707, Paperback)

Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night.

Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack.

Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making - with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:00 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Case One: Olivia Land, youngest and most beloved of the Land girls, goes missing in the night and is never seen again. Case Two: Theo delights in his daughter Laura's wit, beauty, and selfless love. But her first day as an associate in his law firm is also the day when Theo's world turns upside down. Case Three: Michelle looks around one day and finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making, with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband-until a fit of rage creates a grisly escape route...As Private Detective Jackson Brodie investigates all three cases, startling connections emerge. Inextricably caught up in his clients' emotions, Jackson finds their unshakable need for resolution very much like his own.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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