Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Case Histories was this month’s read and received an overwhelming response from everyone at book club.

The characters were loved immediately and even though the book had been dramatized recently on TV, members had created their own visuals of what they deemed the characters to look like. Jackson Brodie was deemed as being realistic but quirky. He was a strong character in his own right but was also flawed and had a certain air of vulnerability about him due to the disappearance of his sister when he was young. He was also at times quite weak, as he allowed certain characters to dominate him, particularly the women. However he certainly had the depth and skill at solving the mysteries and he was a lot more capable of solving the bread and butter cases then what was led to believe. Jackson was also very involved with all the families in the cases – it was suggested that perhaps this is why he was asked to leave the police force. It was as if he felt obligated to help far more than he should and getting close to the people in question enabled him to solve the cases.

There was a strong parallel between Theo and Jackson. Theo had lost his daughter through her being murdered and Jackson was about to lose his daughter due to her emigrating. The entire book seemed to be hinged on loss, with all characters losing either a sibling or someone close to them.

One member couldn’t quite get her head around the abrasive Secretary as there seemed no reason for her to be like that but perhaps it was a way of showing that Jackson just couldn’t deal with women of a certain nature.

There was also a strong theme of hysterical humour running through the novel, in particularly when one of the sisters mention Joan Of Arc – the author is incredibly subtle with how she uses this.

The book itself was deemed as an easy read, in fact some members had read it in one go. It was thought that the author was incredibly skilled at crafting the story – each case was vivid and different, yet they all intertwined with one another. All members enjoyed the characters of the novel and the use of every day language that thankfully prevented the novel from being pretentious. It was felt that this novel was less of a crime novel and more about the life of others.

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