The latest offering
‘When Will There Be Good News?’ begins in Devon, where a young Joanna Mason witnesses an horrific attack on her family. The man responsible is sent to prison, but 30 years later, he is released. The reader is then introduced to 16 year-old Reggie who finds work as a nanny for Dr. Hunter. However, Hunter goes missing and Reggie finds himself as the only one who is concerned.
‘When Will There Be Good News?’ again follows two old characters; retired police officer Jackson Brodie and Detective Chief Inspector Louise Munroe. The other main protagonists, Reggie and Joanna Mason, are new characters that Atkinson has created for this novel. As the story unwinds, the reader discovers the unexpected connections that link all of these unlikely people together.
Atkinson’s popularity and success has continued to grow with the publication of this, her third novel in a series following the life of Jackson Brodie and, more recently, Louise Munroe.
Creating the anti-Family saga
Atkinson’s literary integrity began in 1995 when Atkinson won the Whitbread Book of the Year award with her debut novel ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’. Since then, Kate Atkinson’s reputation has been advancing within literary circles and the broader public through the publication of ‘Case Histories’) in 2004 and ‘One Good Turn’, released in 2006.
In response to the publication of these works, Atkinson has been labelled a Literary author and has also been attributed to creating her own genre, that of ‘the anti-Family Saga’ novel. In her novels, Atkinson has been able to subvert the notion of the ‘Family Saga’ and distort it into an unrecognisable fashion; something that, for today’s modern world, has a great relevance.
Something also unconventional and distinctive with Atkinson’s writing is her use of chronology. With ease, her narrative slips between year, decade and even century. A prime example of this is in Behind the Scenes at the Museum, as its chronology travels from the 1950s to the 1990s and then further back in time to revisit the two World Wars and the 19th century. Frequently, in Atkinson’s novels, characters recently deceased are able to be re-instated as their former, younger selves. Although hard to create successfully, Atkinson achieves the desired effect with apparent ease. This is just another aspect of her writing that attributes to her being labelled as a Literary writer.
Criminal use of coincidence?
However, some fans of the crime genre have reacted angrily to Atkinson’s use of coincidence, as unlikely meetings draw characters with similar backgrounds close together. The response to this has concentrated on the fact that many of the most renowned authors have used this technique in the past, notably EM Forster in ‘Howards End’, and so Atkinson should not be criticised for following suit.
When Will There Be Good News?, unlike her other work, is not primarily seen as being a detective novel. Instead, the text chooses to focus more on people; how to deal with and understand them. Currently, it is number 26 in Amazon’s bestselling book list; again an indicator of Atkinson’s growing accomplishments.