Happy Cannonball Read 15! This isn’t my first read of 2023, but it’s the first one that merited a review.
Shrines of Gaiety is one I put down before Christmas because I didn’t have the time and wanted to fully engage with it. I picked it back up this week hoping it wouldn’t tail off…and it didn’t. Even the ending, which many didn’t like, I enjoyed and I’m almost willing to forgive Kate Atkinson for her past transgressions as to why I can’t get into her books. She had a specific story to tell and, even if her storytelling style is sometimes infuriating, I got the sense all along of what she was trying to say.
To be clear: I don’t know if I would have gotten into this one had I not been so interested in the subject. 1920s London, club scene, boozing, gangsters, all up my alley. And that made palatable the faults I would have otherwise found to be egregious, like the lackadaisical plotting and overwritten prose.
Many found the characters thin but I didn’t at all. Atkinson’s point is how they respond to their milieu is interchangeable based on gender and class. I suppose you can knock her for not devoting enough creative energy to the daughters but I also feel that misses the point: this was more about how Nellie protects her daughters and views them in a society that finds them disposable. Which is why I thought the final scene made a world of sense.
I don’t know that it will make me explore Atkinson’s back catalog but this Thinking Person’s Peaky Blinders worked for me in incredible ways