Review of ‘Not the End of the World’ by Kate Atkinson

This collection of short stories was a Christmas gift from an uncle of mine and because I’m a sucker for order and have to make y way alphabetically through my book collection, it was the first thing I started reading once I’d finished Dan Brown’s Inferno in January.

The relative that gave me this book is possibly the most intelligent member of our family, so I was a little concerned that this book would be like a return to my literature degree. And in some respect, it was. It was a challenging read and I did have to stop and contemplate what I’d read after each story. But that in no way means it wasn’t an enjoyable read.

The way Atkinson weaves her short stories together to make a larger narrative was truly special and something I thoroughly enjoyed piecing together. Slowly but surely Atkinson links together each of the characters in each of her short stories and creates a beautiful patch-work of narrative.

The most wonderful part of this collection though, in my opinion, was Atkinson’s subtle use of Greek Mythology. My knowledge of Greek Mythology is pretty strong, but even I had to check a couple of things out for the link to truly come through in some of the stories. But overall, this just made it all the more satisfying. And when I did pick up on the origin story, I was overcome with a complete thrill. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited to figure out the basis of a story before.

If I have one criticism it’s that sometimes the characters aren’t fully formed and sometimes the plot feels a little rushed. But in a short story that’s somewhat to be expected.

All in all, I’d highly recommend this collection. However, I’d recommend that you brush up on some of your mythology knowledge first hand.

 

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