A collection of interconnected short stories. Atkinson’s imagination is on fire fusing fantasy with the everyday. A feast for all book lovers as well as a lovely present for forward thinking gifters.
- best book club reads -
NORMAL RULES DON'T APPLY
BY KATE ATKINSON
‘Normal Rules Don’t Apply’ is a collection of interconnected short stories by one of the Den’s favourite story tellers Kate Atkinson. Returning to this format after 20 years, Atkinson’s imagination is on fire fusing fantasy with the everyday. A feast for all book lovers and Atkinson fans - as well as a lovely present for forward thinking gifters.
The collection kicks off with ‘The Void’ a despotic tale imagining how the end of the world might happen for Ted and his family - when the outdoors is literally plunged into darkness and it becomes a dangerous place for all living creatures. Recently widowed the reader takes a peak into Ted’s life and his family as they experience this inexplicable ‘void'. Whilst the story is short Atkinson quickly gains our full attention. We are invested in her characters, even though we know it might not be for long!
The stories are varied, magical and upside-down in which normal rules definitely don’t apply - with talking dogs, racehorses, a riches to rags fairytale, a blithe spirit looking down on her own post mortem, death and life and ‘the void’ that no one can escape from not even Princess Anne!
Atkinson fans will be pleased to see the return of Franklin a recurring character in many of her novels, this time working as a producer for a TV soap ‘Green Acres’. The characters and the soap pop up throughout the book providing extra nods and threads that unite the stories in a captivating tapestry of life.
The author is not afraid to have fun with her readers, looking at the madness of the world now and how it could be. Even as we see and feel the collection coming to a close, readers can delight in the tales as they are beautifully composed, funny and sanguine, with plenty of clever twists and light-hearted humour. Even in Gene-sis the author takes us aside with her character Kitty. Whilst the world is imploding around them we sit in on an advertising scene as creatives meet at ‘Edge (Hedge spelt with 'E) to discuss the launch of a new smoothie, Humble. ‘So I am thinking clean and wholesome’ Ewan said ‘A milkmaid, a dairymaid’. We the reader know this is clearly very unlikely but we are equally happy to enjoy the directness and pithiness of Kitty who points out ‘It should be called Poison, in my humble opinion’. One of Kitty's many witty commentaries about a world that doesn't make sense.
The Den enjoyed this book in audio, providing ample opportunity to revisit the stories and enjoy the collection. Whilst critics wanted more from the author, book clubbers enjoyed the ability to dip into and return to the collection, whether listening on the move or reading as a night time treat.