“One Good Turn” by Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson, how is it your novels have gone missing from my bookshelves for so long? While staying at a friend’s maison in France, I happened upon your novel, One Good Turn, and was captivated from the first pages. You have a wit, a writing elan, that makes reading this book as enjoyable as sitting in bed (with your book, of course) eating an entire box of Godiva chocolates (which my doctor and my wife would quite frown upon).
You have an uncanny knack for combining a literary novel with a mystery, weaving the two together with wise, clever turns of phrase, references to other familiar world-renowned artistic icons, a sharp-eyed cynical perspective on culture at large, and a lovable but hilarious way with your characters. Even the bad guy. Although he deserved what he got, still I was sorry to see him exit. A little sorry. But it all went to show that you, Kate, can not only poke fun at a character but still see the humanity in them.
What I enjoyed most of all was the way you took a minor incident of road rage at the outset and spun it into a tale which involved so many other people in so many different ways. At times it was almost too many characters, but to your credit they were so different from one another that I never had a problem keeping them straight – right down to their distinct manners of thinking or speaking. My favorite might be Julia; I smile when I think about what a whimsical brat she was.
I believe the old aphorism goes, “one good turn deserves another.” You turned that one on its head quite nicely. So thank you, Kate, for writing such a fine novel. While in Paris, I stopped in at Shakespeare and Company and purchased a copy of your latest, Big Sky. So come on, sock it to me, Jackson.