SHRINES OF GAIETY
BY KATE ATKINSON
An entertaining caper set in London, 1926, in which the country is reeling from the aftermath of the Great War and its capital has become the focus of a delirious new night life. Written by the bestselling author Kate Atkinson 'Shrines of Gaiety' is an addictive 'take me away with you' novel to enjoy as an indulgent summertime treat .
Inspired by a real life impresario, the novel begins with the release of Ma (Nellie) Coker, a ruthless and ambitious London nightclub owner who has been discharged from Holloway Prison for alcohol license violations. The reader is introduced to a cast of many characters which include Nellie’s own family comprising six children of varying ages and ambitions - all affected by the war and their mother’s hold on them. Running alongside Nellie’s story whose nightclubs are frequented by socialites, dignitaries, gangsters and spies, the reader follows Freda and Florence, young runaway girls from York, who journey to London to audition for a glamorous life on the stage. The girls realise that the auditions are not what they seem and it soon becomes a dangerous pursuit in a city where young women are disappearing and turning up dead in the River Thames. Meanwhile Gwendolen Kelling, a young librarian (previously a battlefield nurse) from the girls’ hometown, has agreed to track down Freda and Florence. In order to do this, Gwendolen agrees to be recruited as a spy, first for the police and then to work for the notorious Ma Coker.
This fast paced tale of intrigue and adventure effortlessly shifts timeframes and voices which takes the reader deeper into the underbelly of the nightclub world. The Den was fully immersed in the twists and turns of this exciting and intriguing period in history; in which London was alight with the glittering and captivating night life, social classes and divisions were collapsing and crime and corruption was creeping in.
Other books by Kate Atkinson reviewed in the Den include ‘Transcription’, another pacy spy thriller and the Costa award winning novel ‘Life After Life’ which has also been adapted for TV.
Fans of the author will be pleased to discover her next book of short stories coming very soon - ‘Normal Rules Don’t Apply’ (released end of August 2023).