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Understanding Kate Atkinson

Brian Diemert

Published: Dec 14 2020


Published: Dec 14 2020


Published: Dec 14 2020

OA Ebook
Published: Dec 14 2020


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

Best known for her Jackson Brodie series of detective novels, which were adapted into the BBC television series Case Histories, Kate Atkinson is the author of eleven novels, two plays, and a collection of short stories. Her literary awards include the 1995 Whitbread Award for a first novel and book of the year for Behind the Scenes at the Museum and the Costa Book Awards for best novel in 2013 and 2015 for Life after Life and A God in Ruins.

In this first book-length study of Atkinson's literary career, Brian Diemert examines the evolution of her novels: the playful and self-conscious work of the 1990s, the detective series novels, the books that examine Britain's history and its legacy of conflict and trauma related to World War II, and the most recent return to mystery. Diemert identifies her pattern of weaving multiple narrative strands into intricate plots that create the mystery at the heart of all her tales. He traces her development of narrative technique and thematic preoccupations of women's vulnerability within patriarchy and the complications of absent or disengaged parents. While her fiction is marked by allusiveness and humor, it remains profound and often touching as it explores the myths of British history and, particularly, women's lives.

Brian Diemert is a professor of English at Brescia University College in London, Ontario. He is the author of Graham Greene's Thrillers and the 1930s and has published several essays on crime fiction and on British and American writing in the twentieth century and beyond.

"Understanding Kate Atkinson is well and accessibly written, critically insightful and judicious, and well-researched and informed. It provides those wishing for a deeper, more comprehensive grasp of Atkinson's work with an engaging, single-volume resource."—Brian Shaffer, Rhodes College

"One doesn't need to be a detective, a history buff, or a literature professor to appreciate Kate Atkinson's ever-evolving oeuvre, but it certainly helps to find Brian Diemert capably wearing all of these hats (and more) over the course of this study. Understanding Kate Atkinson is a marvelous achievement—one that will help us to read, teach, and talk seriously about Atkinson's fiction for many years to come."—Melanie Micir, Washington University in St. Louis

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