Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson

Human Croquet (original 1997; edition 1998)

by Kate Atkinson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,481365,022 (3.66)93
Title:Human Croquet
Authors:Kate Atkinson
Info:HarperCollins (1998), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson (1997)

  1. 20
    Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson (starfishian)
    starfishian: Atkinson has written books in a variety of genres, settings and topics. Human Croquet reminds me very much of Behind the Scenes; if you liked one, no doubt you will like the other.
  2. 01
    Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (bnbookgirl)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 93 mentions

English (35)  Dutch (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Told from the point of view of Isobel, its omniscient narrator, this is a complicated family history, full of fantasy masquerading as truth and truth masquerading as fantasy, of mixed identities, of events that turn into dreams and dreams that turn into events. It is set in England, on the estate of one Francis Fairfax, some 300 years after his residence there. Shakespeare is a bit player, along with a cast of evil schoolteachers, missing mothers, spinsters, smart adolescents, kindly matrons cooking poisoned mushroom soup, and other goings-on such as might appear in an entertainment by the Bard. And babies. Lots of babies, changelings, left on doorsteps, snatched from carriages, and suddenly breaking forth from unprepared wombs. Fascinating and wise and sad and satisfying and well said. ( )
  deckla | Apr 5, 2016 |
As in Life After Life, Atkinson explores alternative pasts/beginnings. There is much food for thought in these books! Isobel's character captures well the angst of being a teen age misfit. ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
My third Kate Atkinson book (and her second). I discovered her by reading a detective novel she wrote in 2011 and enjoying it so much, decided to look at her earlier oeuvre. Quite different. Quite. And it may be unfair to say, but in these earlier books it feels like she is learning the craft of novel writing. There's lots of back story which is entertaining but feels rather over-explanatory and advantages the reader over the characters (which just feels wrong way about). Undeterred, however, I shall look for more of her detective stories. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Jan 18, 2016 |
Human Croquet Kate Atkinson
3 Stars

I have very mixed feelings about this book along the way it promised great things only to fail deliver in the end.

The story is about the Fairfax family past, present and future and our narrator is the teenaged Isobel Fairfax in the present time.

I really liked the opening chapters, the writing and language used were beautifully poetical and then we reached the middle of the book and the plot for me fell apart, writing still beautiful plot strange, then we got to 3 quarters and I was hooked again by the plot it was an ahh that's why that happened moment and then we get to the end and the plot went weird again.

At points this book felt like Rebecca a gothic mystery at the heart of family life and then at points it felt like a cheap TV plot... and then she woke up and it was all a dream

I really wanted to like this more than a did due to the writing quality but I just couldn't ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Kate Atkinson has been one of my favorite authors for a while now, and since I started reading her books after she'd published a few, I went back and read this earlier tale, which reminded me of her more recent work Life After Life in its time bending structure. It's almost as if this book was a test run for that, yet this stands on its own with its own special take on the flexibility of time.

Isobel Fairfax is an ordinary 16-year-old girl living an ordinary life in 1960, yet somehow, she can slip into the past for brief glimpses of her hometown as it was. Isobel and her older brother have been haunted for most of their lives by the disappearance of their mother when they were young, and Isobel's brother in particular, has been obsessed in recreating her, grasping at any artifact or clue as to who she was or where she is, while Isobel would prefer to regain their mother as a whole entity. Instead, they must contend with their father, Gordon, who returned to them after an absence of seven years; a cranky aunt; and a stepmother with odd obsessions. But how well does Isobel know the adults in her life? Who were they and, more importantly, how did they all come to this place in their lives?

The story unfolds as a historical treatise, starting with the formation of all things, then a brief chronology of the area of England the Fairfaxes have called home, an area William Shakespeare is said to have visited, ending with Gordon's early years, before returning to alternating timelines of present and the past, a past when Gordon, returned from WWII, brought home his bride, Eliza. Family secrets abound as Isobel seeks answers to life's mysteries and her own family's.

As always when I read one of Atkinson's books, I got caught up with the characters and their lives. They're fully realized people, warts and all, and by the end of the book, not everything is what I thought it was, and it's not too many books that can fool me and take my breath away as this one did. I hate saying too much because I'd hate to ruin a wonderful, surprising, amazing, ultimately uplifting, yet poignant reading experience this book is. ( )
  ShellyS | Jul 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Atkinsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tamminen, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
This green and laughing world he sees Water and plains, and waving trees, The skin of birds and the blue-doming skies 'Ode for the Spring of 1814', Leigh Hunt
For my mother, Myra Christiana Keech
First words
Call me Isobel.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312186886, Paperback)

Human Croquet is a game in which some people act as hoops while others propel a blindfolded "ball" around the course. Though the game is never actually played in Kate Atkinson's remarkable novel, Human Croquet, the parallels between plot and pastime are undeniable. Atkinson, winner of the 1995 Whitbread Award in Britain, tells the story of Isobel Fairfax and her older brother, Charles. The children's parents vanished when they were young, leaving them to the care of their grandmother, now dead, and their Aunt Vinny. Recently their father has returned with "the Debbie-wife" in tow, and they all live in Arden, the family's ancestral home built on the foundations of the original manor house that burned to the ground in 1605. According to family legend, the first Fairfax took a wife who mysteriously disappeared one day, leaving in her wake a curse on the Fairfax name. More than 300 years later, Fairfax descendants are still struggling with this painful legacy.

Atkinson's novel is obviously not rooted in dull reality. Narrator Isobel has an uncanny knowledge of past and future events; Charles is obsessed with the concept of parallel universes and time travel; and a faery curse hangs over everybody. Fortunately, Kate Atkinson is a masterful writer who manages to keep her world of wonders in check. Human Croquet is no ordinary novel, and readers who venture into the Fairfax universe are in for a magical ride.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:01 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Once it had been the great forest of Lythe but over the centuries the forest had been destroyed and replaced by streets of trees. The Fairfax family remained, including Vinny (the aunt from hell), Charles, the acne-scarred lost boy and Isobel to whom the story belongs.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
27 avail.
51 wanted
2 pay5 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.66)
1 6
1.5 1
2 23
2.5 6
3 86
3.5 42
4 130
4.5 12
5 53


3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 109,698,621 books! | Top bar: Always visible