Archive | December, 2018

Van has finished reading… Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

18 Dec

started early took my dog

I’m introducing a new term to the blog – one that I very much hope will see repeated use: The Atkinson Experience. Not so much the Harvey Effect, where a phrase is so perfectly formed I’m apt to read it again but something that would apply to a whole book or story. It’s what I might otherwise term stealth brilliance. The writing is apt, easy, it flows as might a conversation so that these aren’t characters but people, and you could easily imagine the protagonist is sat opposite you in the snug at your local, relaying all this detail first hand. It’s not what one might describe as beautiful writing, though it is beautifully crafted. It’s just that it’s so well done you don’t notice the work that’s gone into making it so. It’s Kate Atkinson.

Started Early, Took My Dog is the fourth book to feature Jackson Brodie, who is a peach of a character. Don’t worry if you’ve not read the first three (I haven’t yet either) you’ll not be left floundering for detail or backstory. As you would expect, there’s an arc that extends beyond the bounds of this book’s story, both past and future, that will leave you wanting to search the other books out.

Of the other characters I suspect I’m not alone in falling for Courtney, a tattered little waif who is ‘rescued’  by retired-copper-turned-shopping-mall-head-of-security Tracey Waterhouse. Courtney is fantastic, unmistakeably a kid at every turn and yet there’s a sense of age-old wisdom about her, an inscrutability that is as touching on the page as it would likely be infuriating in real life!

What I didn’t expect is how genuinely and knowingly funny the book is, especially given the sheer grimness of the main storyline. We see the basest of human emotion, motivation and action and yet time and again I found myself laughing along with the wry honesty on display. It’s apt to remind you of people you know. In short, it is understated brilliance. Eminently readable, thoroughly engaging, wry and astute. It is the Atkinson Experience.


Started Early, Took My Dog was published by Doubleday on the 19th August 2010 ISBN:9780552772464


You can find Kate at her website