Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson book

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Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson. Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson is a fiction, thriller, literature, redemption, paranormal, loss, grief, suspense and mystery novel that covers all the five main elements of a story plot, setting, conflict, characters, and theme.

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson book overview

The Jazz Age is shown in all its fizzy lunacy and desperation for the new, the better, and the hustle in “Shrines of Gaiety,” which is set in London at that time. Even when her novels are at their darkest, Atkinson simply has the magician’s skill to change the mood of her readers in a matter of paragraphs. Dark Places bestselling author Gillian Flynn

In 1926, with the nation still reeling from the Great War, London has emerged as the epicentre of a wild new nightlife. In the bars of Soho, celebrities mingle with criminals, foreign dignitaries mingle with peers of the realm, and girls offer dances for a shilling each.

Nellie Coker, the infamous queen of this glittering realm, is harsh but equally ambitious to promote her six children, including the mysterious Niven, the oldest, whose character was fashioned in the Somme crucible. But as Nellie’s kingdom confronts threats from both within and without, prosperity attracts adversaries. Because a dark underside exists behind the glitz of Soho’s revelry, a place where it is all too easy to get lost.

Kate Atkinson gives us a glimpse into a long-gone world with her own Dickensian flair. Shrines of Gaiety demonstrates the many skills that have made Atkinson one of the most acclaimed authors of our day. It is slyly hilarious, astutely observed, and cleverly planned.

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson
Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

The filthy glamour of 1920s London nightlife is the backdrop for Kate Atkinson’s latest book, a heady brew of crime, romance, and satire. Beginning with the famed club owner Nellie Coker serving a six-month jail sentence for violating the licencing rules at one of her storied Soho venues, she wonders if she’s getting her money’s worth from the backhanders she’s paying cops. Worse yet, there’s a new broom in town: upright DCI Frobisher, eagerer than his colleagues to go into a rash of missing girls, among them 14-year-old runaway Freda, whose ambitions of becoming a West End star hit a roadblock due to the nighttime economy’s appetite for flesh.

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson book 1
Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson book 1

Shrines of Gaiety has Atkinson in her best performance since the chronological hijinks of her Costa-winning sliding-doors story Life After Life, which is stinging with historical detail gleaned from contemporary sources – the cocktails, the drugs, and the clothing (2013). The use of more than a dozen fully developed characters propels a rompy panorama while keeping in sight the pole-axing cruelty at the book’s core: the trafficking and exploitation of girls who “no one would miss,” to use the words of one character, and who aren’t “the kind that a jury will believe.” It is a marvel of plate-spinning narrative know-how and a throwback to an era of I-fixated autofiction.

The subject matter of Shrines of Gaiety is grim, but Atkinson won’t downplay the possibility of thrills and spills in the murky interwar demimonde. For example, take a look at a crucial set-piece gunfight between an east London gang and the King of Denmark, which is representative of the purposefully mixed-class clientele drawn to Nellie’s establishment. The narration switches between omniscient and know-it-all throughout the course of the novel, soaring forward and back in time.Atkinson isn’t beyond hammy dread (“It was going to end poorly. “), and she will announce the impending death of a walk-on character or that what you “could be forgiven for thinking” is “not in reality the case.” In any case,” or a funny self-reference such, “Freda was not going to work at Rowntree’s! She was going to be successful! She would rather pass away from an excess of exclamation points than work in an office or a factory!

We are told that Ramsay, Nellie’s ambitious son, envisions his first novel as “a razor-sharp dissection of the various strata of society in the wake of the carnage of war” when he foolishly imagines book buyers lined up for it while it is still in the manuscript stage. It’s amusing, to be sure, but the joke feels snide because Atkinson accomplishes the same feat herself, unless her point is that it’s absurd to view Shrines of Gaiety in that light, in which case she’s teasing the appreciative reader.

However, who needs suspense when Atkinson can kill off a major character with nothing more than a thoughtless step into a busy street? It’s true that the panoptic method swaps mystery for buoyancy. The novel’s more terrifying developments are salvaged by a moving ending that puts the real-life, all-female gang the Forty Thieves in the spotlight for a vengeful act of unity. In any case, you’re left appreciative for the gear change, even though the longed-for justice of girl power only serves to pave the way for the harsher justice of state power at its most lethal. Wish fulfilment, perhaps, but Atkinson has drank from the history of the time so deeply that you’re willing to give her the benefit of the doubt (as an afterword attests).As the noose closes in, Atkinson’s ability to seamlessly transition from images of pitch-black horror to a snappy “what everyone did next” finale without minimising the tale’s bitter core is astounding. It’s the pinnacle of flawless control.

Shrines of Gaiety is a outstanding creation through Kate Atkinson

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