Human Crochet.

By Kate Atkinson

Printed: 1997

Publisher: Doubleday. London

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 4

Condition: Very good  (See explanation of ratings)

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Item information


In the original dustsheet. Orange cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

The brilliant and profound second novel from the three-times Costa prizewinner and number one bestseller Kate Atkinson.

‘Vivid, richly imaginative, hilarious and frightening by turns’ Observer

Once it had been the great forest of Lythe. And here, in the beginning, lived the Fairfaxes, grandly, at Fairfax Manor.

But over the centuries the forest had been destroyed, replaced by Streets of Trees. The Fairfaxes have dwindled too; now they live in ‘Arden’ at the end of Hawthorne Close and are hardly a family at all.

But Isobel Fairfax, who drops into pockets of time and out again, knows about the past. She is sixteen and waiting for the return of her mother – the thin, dangerous Eliza with her scent of nicotine, Arpège and sex, whose disappearance is part of the mystery that still remains at the heart of the forest.

Review: It’s hard to describe what this book is about other than a chunk of the life of an individual at a particular place in time. The heroine of our tale is a teenage girl filled with self-doubt about herself and her looks with a strange bag of misfit friends, a brother who is obsessed with aliens and bizarre events and who lusts after the best looking boy in town. Her rather strange world is described in very simple language like an old fashioned fairy tale so we hear about her aunt vinny and her cats, the creepy lodger and her parents. The main thread of the book is how the disappearance of her mother haunts both herself and her brother and how they believe this has landed them in the frankly surrealist world they live in. There are also other characters in the pot, the great forest which once dominated the landscape of England and some of the major characters that lead to the creation of the town.

Throughout the book we hear the voice of the girl describing the events around her with an innocent eye, however, these chapters are interspersed with flashbacks during which we discover over time the truth behind all the characters past and present. Her father, the ex-war hero, her mother who she sees as a beautiful elusive figure, her step-mother, her grandmother and so on. In doing so we receive a very different view which is far from innocent on the desires and weaknesses of the characters and a world a lot darker, more real and much more dirty than hers.

Some of the books are very funny, and the characterisations told in simple language are very interesting but if you’re looking for humour be aware that this is a typical English thing, a black comedy with some sad truths. It is a very different book, in its style and approach and certainly grips you with a desire to know the truth behind all the people you meet and I stayed up late at night reading away. Its probably not everyones cup of tea and I’m not sure I’d want to read lots of this type of writing but it’s unusual, funny and worth the investment for long plane rides and train rides.

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