Category Archives: human croquet

Human Croquet

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human croquet

Human Croquet is like the offspring of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, Grimm’s fairy tales, and a dash of Agatha Christie. The origin story is all Terry Pratchett magic with dashes of Jane Eyre and the wife in the attic. The story quickly progresses to that of Isobel Fairfax, a descendant of the illustrious Fairfax’s, and her painful coming of age in small town Lythe, England. Isobel’s story starts on her 16th birthday and continually moves back and forth in time to tell the story of her family as a whole and the decisions they made that shaped their lives and their worlds. The further Isobel goes into her own family’s past the more she learns about the past of the land she inhabits. Full of images of fairy tales like Bluebeard and literary allusions, a la William Shakespeare as a tutor to one of Isobel’s ancestors, Human Croquet tells a complex story of fate and how fate can play out over centuries.

The one thing that struck me the most whilst reading Human Croquet was how flawed human perception is. We really do see what we want to see and make up stories to explain exactly what we saw. Isobel does precisely this throughout the novel. She creates scenes to help explain and block out her own past, especially regarding her mother Eliza.

Eliza is probably the most interesting character in the whole novel. At first she’s not quite real. She doesn’t even have quotations when she speaks. She speaks all in italics like an all knowing seer, or what I imagine the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. Her history is tragic and colors the entire world around her. Her absence is felt by everyone in the novel and as a consequence you as the reader feel it too. Her absence is where the Agatha Christie dashes come to play. It takes the entire novel to figure out what happened to Eliza and her end is just as dramatic and tragic as her beginning.

I can’t tell you how much fun this novel was to read. Just trying to guess all of the literary illusions was entertaining in itself. Atkinson has a way with words. Her sentences are beautiful and flow effortlessly into one another. I love how each of her novels has a facade storyline and an unseen one that you have to piece together yourself. Her writing is dense and full. but that’s what I love about it. Atkinson novels always make you think and second guess yourself. But isn’t that what literature is all about, digging and discovering what it means to you.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015.

Playing Games

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a book that I own but have not yet read. For this category I chose Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson. After finding Case Histories lying on a table in a coffee shop I went on a Kate Atkinson binge. Her writing is so lyrical and compelling. Life After Life was absolutely enthralling. Her characters are always so well developed and all a bit damaged. You have to look at them through tarnished glass to see them clearly.

It was during this binge that I bought Human Croquet. I moved and lost it for a bit but just found the book the other day in a box I hadn’t unpacked. I can’t wait to start this Atkinsonian journey. I’m sure exciting things are in store. From the jacket, this book promises a rip roaring time warping adventure story. Set in England in the 1960s, Human Croquet is told from the persective of 16 year old Isobel as she tries to navigate family secrets and growing up.

Stay tuned for the full review of Human Croquet. Happy reading!