Kate Atkinson is an internationally acclaimed author of a wide range of genres and is my latest obsession. Her debut work, a tragicomedy called “Behind the Scenes at the Museum” won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award (now called the Costa Book Award) in 1995 and she hasn’t slowed down since. Atkinson is a writer known for rich character development, complicated plots, and experimental form. Atkinson’s greatest gift is her acute sympathy for the inner lives of her characters. She is also a producer, consultant screen writer, and playwright but best of all, she was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire at the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to literature.
Atkinson is the author of critically-acclaimed and bestselling novels. In addition to the Whitbread Prize, she has been awarded the Saltire Literary Awards, the Costa Book Awards, and many others. She’s also been nominated for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the BCA Crime Thriller of the Year, a Dagger Award, and the Walter Scott Prize. The most amazing thing about Atkinson, though, is her ability to write in multiple genres that can be described as historical fiction, mystery, and women’s fiction; sometimes all within the same book.
This month I am honoring Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series for “Private Eye July.” It is a little talked about series that I stumbled upon last month. It is a perfect summer read because it takes you to new lands, and pulls you deeply into the flawed but relatable life of the characters. And you will laugh. Put aside “The Maidens” by Michaelides. Reach for a mystery full of the unexpected connections and twists that you’ll find in the Jackson Brodie series. You’ll find the story more complex and the writing far superior to many other popular works. There is nothing so satisfying as a well-written story.
If you’re into binge-watching, you can spend a few good hours watching Case Histories on IMDB but as always, the books are better. Next on my list is another series that Atkinson co-created called The Catch. I can’t vouch for it but if Atkinson is involved, it’s sure to be interesting and exciting. Her 2013 bestseller “Life After Life” has been commissioned by the BBC for a four-part adaptation. Filming began this year.
If the books are in high demand and you find yourself at the end of a long holds list, don’t forget to check Libby/Overdrive and Hoopla since they have her works in both e-book and e-audiobook format. Other authors you might like if you love Atkinson are Robert Galbraith, Louise Penny, Ann Cleeves, Anne Tyler and Anthony Horowitz.
Library Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.
Tina Winstead is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Tuesday. Her columns may also be found online at www.thedailystar.com/community/library_corner.