Saturday, September 26, 2015


As the title suggests, this book is weird, though not necessarily emotionally.  The author differentiates at least five storylines with different fonts, but I could only follow the two main ones.  (The other three are snippets from novels written by characters in the main storyline.)  Effie is a university student who is habitually late with her homework, but her stoner boyfriend Bob is even worse.  A smattering of other characters include two dogs, a bunch of indistinguishable fellow students, several nutty professors, and a shady private eye.  Interspersed within the text are interjections from Effie’s mother Nora, who isn’t really her mother, but I have to say that her snarky comments were often quite entertaining.  The reader has the sense that Effie is reading this novel to Nora, and Nora is making unsolicited comments that influence Effie to change the plot from time to time.  (Perhaps this technique is sort of a precursor to the author’s various lives for Ursula in Life After LIfe.)  The true puzzle of the novel, I guess, is that of Effie’s parentage, but I found that whole subplot to be really distracting.  I’m a huge Kate Atkinson fan, but all the literary shenanigans here just didn’t really work for me.  There’s too much going on, and yet I have to agree with Nora’s observation about the main storyline that nothing much happens.  Atkinson’s strong suit is always sparkling dialog, and this book does not disappoint in that regard.  Professor Cousins and Bob both voice some real zingers, and two women who have temporarily escaped their retirement home are hilarious.  Effie is just sort of a stationary object for the other more colorful characters to revolve around.

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