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Atkinson, Kate

novel family mother born

(British, 1951– )

Kate Atkinson was born in York. Her writing career began with commercial magazine fiction. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995), enjoyed great literary and commercial success, and was Whitbread Book of the Year. The novel moves between the lives of the women of the Lennox family, spanning four generations, but is mostly concerned with Ruby, born in the 1950s and brought up above a pet-shop in York. Atkinson's writing is lushly detailed, and encompasses both humour and tragedy. Her second novel was Human Croquet (1997). It centres on Isobel Fairfax, whose mother vanished mysteriously when she was small. Again, Atkinson excavates layers of family history, this time with flights of magic realism and a somewhat grandiose time span. Her feel for 1950s English provincial life is unparalleled. In 2000 Atkinson published Emotionally Weird, which tells the somewhat surreal stories of student Effie and her mother Nora (‘My mother is a virgin. Trust me.’). A quite different venture from her first two books, this is Atkinson's lightest and funniest novel to date.

Hilary Mantel, Jeanette Winterson, Lesley Glaister. See FAMILY SAGA  SA

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