When Will There Be Good News, by Kate Atkinson (New York: Little, Brown, & Co., 2008) certainly wasn't perfect, but it definitely had more going for it than the last few books I've read.
Jacket summary: "On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason's family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna's life is changed forever. ... On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound. ... At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency. ... These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls 'an absolute must-read.'"
My take: Interesting, likeable characters and an intriguing storyline make this book worth a read, though the plot occasionally crosses the line from mysterious to muddled and confusing. It's hard not to feel drawn to Joanna, the former child survivor of a horrendous crime, now grown into a successful, happily married doctor and mother in spite of it all, or to Reggie, her orphaned 16 year old mother's helper who's both a lost, innocent soul and wise beyond her years. Jackson Brodie, whose honest got-on-the-wrong train mistake is compounded exponentially by a freak accident, is a somewhat harder read, but perhaps he's supposed to be. The same, frankly, could be said for Louise, Jackson's "one that got away," who becomes entangled in all 3 of their lives when she volunteers to notify Joanna personally that her family's murderer has been released from prison. The resolution's a little neater than I usually like, but not nearly as bad as I've seen elsewhere, and certainly not veering off into "oh, come on, now" territory. Not one for the permanent shelves, but a good weekend read.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.