Reading down the House in July

Of my original 13 books on my Reading Down the House list, I’ve read nine. Makes four to go by the end of September. No guesses that I’ve left Wolf Hall to last. It might not get read until the next holidays. I think I will need time undisturbed and without distraction. So from that list this month comes two Kate Atkinson novels.

When Will There be Good News , the third Jackson Brody novel, contains several mysteries with annoying coincidences that join all the characters together. I mean, come on, even in Edinburgh there are enough people that the same half a dozen characters wouldn’t be running into each other. Still, I loved this book. And all the characters, even the not so good ones, I liked.

Great writing from Atkinson. How’s this for a line?

Who were these people who didn’t know how to use an apostrophe? They must be looking for Billy. Billy knew a lot of ungrammatical people.

I’ve met a few ungrammatical people in my time myself.

Then straight into book 4, and possibly the last, Jackson Brody mystery, Started Early, Took my Dog.

I found the beginning a bit annoying – all the thoughts of the actress suffering from dementia. But great lines abound :

Hope McMaster shared with Julia a (misplaced) faith in exclamation marks.

Love the description of a character based on their view of punctuation. And love the qualifier “misplaced” as an aside. I, too, hold this misplaced faith.

And what about this character assassination:

…her parents thought [a private maternity hospital] would give their baby (hopefully a boy) a better start in life than an NHS word. The maternity hospital was so under heated that Dorothy Waterhouse came home with chilblains and the infant Tracy with croup. Still they had mixed wi a better class of mother and baby and that was the important thing.

Expect coincidences. They are Atkinson’s thing.

I’ve enjoyed all the Jackson Brodie mysteries, so was happy to find out that they were turned into a TV series by the BBC and my local library stocked the DVDs. Now while it is not exactly Reading Down the Month, the DVDs fit in here.

As expected the series was well done. It’s great to see the places in the novel.

Do you sometimes find that the actors don’t represent the characters as you imagine them? Jason Isaacs plays Jackson Brodie brilliantly. He is worthy of taking his shirt off, which he does quite a bit despite the cold.


Not a good shot but you get the picture. (And googling him, I found out he played Lucius Malfoy, which I never picked through 5 episodes.)

I was slightly annoyed that some of the plots were changed. Watching the two episodes based on When Will There be Good News with my son, I kept saying, “That’s not how it is in the book.” My son responded with, “It’s a different story for a different medium.” Look, I know that the structure of a TV drama is different and that coincidences in a novel may look ridiculous on the screen and that many details have to be simplified for the screen. But still, it did lose some of the uniqueness and become similar to other gritty Northern crime dramas. (And I wished they’d left the Aussie doctor in – but just for jingoistic reasons.)

Be warned: it is very violent and scary so deserves the MA15+ rating.


10 thoughts on “Reading down the House in July

  1. Very good work to find grammar references in both books! I get confused if I watch the DVD of a book; I never know whether I should have read the book first or watched the DVD first. Meh!

  2. I read the first of the Jackson Brody mysteries early this year – I gave it four stars so obviously enjoyed it! Have been meaning to look for more at the library so must do that next time I’m there.
    I finally realised I preferred the books to film/TV adaptations after I saw The Book Thief. Only ones that ‘sort of please me’ are light classics – Little Women, Pride and Predjudice type.

  3. Oh, Cathy, I loved The Book Thief book, should I not see the movie? Although I did wonder as I read, how on earth the internal dialogue nature of the book could be transferred to a movie. Although the book contains plenty of sction, it is hardly the point of the book, is it?
    And Lucinda, fellow member of the grammar police, I salute you:)

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