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Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson
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Human Croquet (original 1997; edition 1998)

by Kate Atkinson

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1,489374,986 (3.65)95
Member:letterpress
Title:Human Croquet
Authors:Kate Atkinson
Info:HarperCollins (1998), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Fiction

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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)
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» See also 95 mentions

English (36)  Dutch (1)  All (37)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
I think I’ve been reading Atkinson’s output backwards. The good news from this is that I think her writing has become much more honed and gripping whereas earlier works like this one are too loose altogether for my liking. And in this one there wasn’t really anyone I felt attached to. Even the narrator, Isobel, seems particularly cutting at times, especially towards Eunice, the girl who wants to be friendly with her.

Of course the Widow and Vinny are close-mindedly ugly but then their adversary, Eliza is just so offhand with even the children whom she loves that you can’t like her while Robert is just so ineffectual that we’ve no time for him either.

With the characters offering little to attract them, we’re left with Atkinson’s style which just seems too whimsical for me with her seemingly putting down whatever comes to mind. So we get over half a page on the sort of cakes Mrs Baxter bakes or a description of Eliza’s night-dress ‘fancy enough to go dancing in – a long lace body and a bias-cut skirt in oyster satin’, whatever ‘bias-cut’ means . . .

I also found it illogical that Isobel, having time-travelled, tells Debbie that she should see a psychiatrist when she reveals to Isobel that she had found herself in a ‘great forest’ instead of telling her that she’d had a similar experience. Why did she want to keep it a secret?

Initially I was expecting Eliza to appear through that time travel but then as different version after different version of reality was presented, I found only my perseverance kept me going. At least in ‘Life after life’ there seemed to be some idea behind it all. Here some readers may find something but I didn’t. ( )
  evening | Nov 30, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Atkinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Tamminen, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For my mother, Myra Christiana Keech
First words
Call me Isobel.
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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)

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