Book Review: Human Croquet (Kate Atkinson)
Kate’s second novel, and this does not disappoint. Considering this was written in the early stages of her writing career, there is a maturity about her writing. She is creative, imaginative and brave. She risks going into the realms of complete fantasy but manages (just in time) to drag us back into reality. She finds a way of explaining the strange episodes experienced by the young Isobel. Atkinson draws us into her world, daring us to exclaim in disbelief. We don’t, because we accept the premise that these things can and do (in our minds) happen. We go off into the ether, we travel backwards and forwards in time. We encounter the loves of our life, even if we never actually meet them in the flesh (as it were). We die, come back, and then dream that life all over again.
Kate grounds enough of the story in real life to give us something to hang on to. Something we can believe in, or coax our own imaginations into taking similar journeys.
I read the 444 pages comfortably in just a few days. Shorter novels with which I could not engage have taken weeks. An easy read, I found, but with some difficult and touchy subjects – death, sex crimes, family breakup and unrequited love.
Human Croquet is a game that can be played (usually if a large garden lawn is available), but also serves as a metaphor bringing together the aspects of the human condition we all suffer and to which we contribute. To call this novel thought-provoking is an understatement.