I always make a compilation tape for Jackson for each book. I find it’s rather like a meditation, something I come back to on a regular basis when I’m writing because in some mysterious way it reminds me of the essence of each particular book. He, and I, like country music but that’s quite a broad church. Sometimes it’s apparent to me why I’ve chosen certain tracks and at other times I’m not at all sure of the reason. There are a lot of songs about dead mothers and orphaned children for Case Histories and When Will There Be Good News, and more than a few about death and heaven in Started Early. (Jackson’s taste is strictly on the melancholic side.) At the moment I’m writing a book that begins in 1910 and goes through the Second World War so just now I’m listening to music from the Twenties and Thirties, rather odd and not entirely to my taste. I’m looking forward to Glenn Miller and the Andrew Sisters--not Jackson’s taste at all! --Kate Atkinson
Lee Child: This is the fourth Jackson Brodie book. It's starting to look suspiciously like a series! What brought you back this time?
Kate Atkinson: I never intended to write more than the first one -- which was Case Histories -- but I wrote it so quickly -- which was highly unusual for me -- that I somehow felt as if I hadn't finished with the form and the characters. And then it became the 'power of three' and I thought "one more" and then I found I had unfinished business for Jackson and it became four. I honestly don't know how that happened. There is something seductive about the shape of a detective novel, or at any rate of using a detective in a novel, because it gives you a ready-- made dynamic and a reason for introducing characters to whom interesting things happen as opposed to, say, starting with a whole load of people in a bank or an office and thinking so what are their stories, and what's going to happen to them? (Although, even as I'm writing that, I'm thinking oh, actually that sounds quite intriguing).
Child: Your career so far shows you're not afraid to write whatever you choose. It's as if you've been in and out of several different rooms in the house. Is that fun?
Atkinson: Yes! I get bored quite easily but also there are so many ways of writing out there to explore. To run with the house analogy -- I love houses and there are so many lovely ones that I'll never have a chance to live in because life is short and so is money. It's the same with different styles and genres of writing. I hope before I die I manage to write a romantic novel (because I never write any kind of romance) and I would love to be able to write a children's book, but I think they are the most challenging of all.
Child: Is it easier to write the Brodie books than the others? Or harder?
Atkinson: I found the Brodie books easy to begin with, and then very difficult to finish. I haven't actually finished with him yet but at the moment he's taking a holiday somewhere restful. I found the new book really hard but I think I'd just run out of steam with the character. I'm writing something completely different at the moment and it's amazing how much energy I have for it and what a relief it feels! I think the next time I re-visit Jackson it will be with that same kind of enthusiasm -- and he (and I) will be all the better for having taken a break from each other!
Child: You write about Yorkshire with a certain exasperated affection. You were born there, right?
Atkinson: I am actually a patron of the Yorkshire Tourist Board! I think it's true of everyone in exile -- I live in Edinburgh -- no matter how mild the form, that you have a longing for what you have left behind.
I think the older you get the stronger that is -- not so much nostalgia, but a feeling that your heart is in another place. I may be kidding myself there and, like Jackson, there are certain parts of Yorkshire that I would never want to re-visit, but like him I think there are places in North Yorkshire that do mark it out as God's Own county. (I don't know why Yorkshire people are so fervently patriotic about their county!) My whole family is settled in Scotland so that kind of prevents me from moving back although I dream about that little cottage in the Dales, Aga in the kitchen, sheep bleating outside the window...
(Photo of Kate Atkinson © Martin Hunter; photo of Lee Child © Sigrid Estrada;)
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Spur of the moment decisions lead to life-altering consequences. A child and a dog link characters in an expected way that leads to injury and death.
Atkinson has created several mysteries within one story in this latest outing, and although Jackson is the continuing thread between the books, he is certainly not the only significant character.
One element I so enjoy about Atkinson's books is that her characters are somewhat abnormal for being no realistically normal. Brodie is an ex-cop, ex-PI with a number of failed or failing relationships. It is nice to learn much more about him and his background here. Tracy is a long way from being the attractive, sexy, young cop so common now. Tilly is an elderly actress with early dementia.
I find it almost impossible to describe this book. The writing is clever but without feeling contrived. Her voice and humor are delightful. There are coincidences, but they are deliberate and play upon the theme. The theme, which comes from the traditional poem "For want of a nail..." is brilliantly played out.
I did not find this the easiest book to read due to time and POV changes. It was a bit slow getting into, but it was never boring. I am always fascinated by Atkinson's writing and I love her titles. All I can say is that this is a book which can stand on its own and is very well worth reading.
STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG (PI-Jackson Brodie-England-Cont) - VG
Atkinson, Kate - 4th in series
Doubleday, ©2010, UK Hardcover - ISBN: 9780385608022
In Started Early, Took My Dog, which takes place in Leeds, West Yorkshire, several plot lines begin before the entrance of Brodie. The starving, almost dead child of a prostitute is found in an apartment with the body of the mother in 1975, and the child is later adopted. The other story lines take place in the present. Two thugs have arranged to kidnap a child in Munich. A female former police superintendent in Leeds saves a child from being abused, then offers to buy the child from the prostitute who has been dragging her through the streets. A senile actress in a TV serial witnesses something she does not understand. Amid these beginning plot lines, Jackson Brodie sees a small dog being horribly abused by a muscleman and saves the dog, which quickly wiggles its way into his life and heart.Read more ›
One of her primary protagonists, Tracy, an otherwise "hard-nosed" member of the police force ...handling sexual offences, vice, human trafficking, and just about anything nobody else wanted to... is retired and wondering what to do with her life. Shopping on an afternoon at the local shopping center, she watches as an old druggie she recognizes from her days on the force, Kelly, appears to be dragging a tiny little girl and screaming at her. Tracy is drawn into the fray by instinct and curiousity. She follows Kelly, continuing to observe as she kicks at the child, screams at her to stop singing, dragging her through the crowds and down the street.
Since Tracy knows Kelly's other children have already been taken away from her, and that she obviously isn't "clean," she wonders what the freakish woman is doing with this tiny child! When all is said and done, Tracy offers Kelly a chunk of money to "buy" the girl from her. Kelly's eyes are wide with greed. The transaction is made...the child's hand is transferred to Tracy's, and Kelly rides off into the sunset on the local bus. Not, however, before she mouths something like, "But she's not....." And Tracy is left wondering what she's done...helped or kidnapped a child! A child who instantly become one she can't bring herself to part with.
Thus, begins this novel from the pen of Kate Atkinson. With a menagerie of lush, loveable characters complete with their particular idiosyncracies that only serve to make them more endearing, she has us captured from the get-go.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Can someone please tell me about Courtney's origin? Was she the daughter of the murdered prostitute? Did I miss the explanation, or did it never come? Thanks! Read morePublished 3 days ago by Dan Hughes
I think you would have to know about the ways of England to appreciate the irony and the humor of this cleverly woven story. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Andrew Hodson
Love the author and am a fan of the Jackson Brodie series -- a good summer read.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I think the writing is entertaining,humorous in part and very real and down to earth. In each of the characters it is possible to see ones own fears and short comings - we all... Read morePublished 2 months ago by lydia pattison