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Not being a regular novel reader I found myself surprised to be drawn in to the cover of case histories on the book shelf. I immediately thought it would be a dark thriller from the eerie brown and mystical front cover. But upon starting to read it I found my self surprised by the contents.
Case histories is a slightly confusing book to get your head around at first with the ever changing story line. There are three stories all rolled into one and the book frequently flits between the three just as one is about to reach its climax. The book is filled with suspense, cliff hangers and tension however it also manages to add some humour and it certainly had me teary at times.
In 1970 Cambridge there lived a regular albeit troubled family. With four children and one on the way money was tight, being four girls however made great use for hand me downs. The children Sylvia, Amelia and Julia were all of similar age 12 being the oldest however the youngest, Olivia was only three years old. Their father was a mathematician and was several years older than their mother. He was a very withdrawn man who made no attempts to emotionally connect with his children. Their mother was to an extent a respected woman however she bore no love for her children. The only child that she shared any love for was young Olivia. Olivia, for her age was a very well behaved child unlike her three older siblings all of whom had a tendency for causing trouble. One hot evening Amelia was given the privilege of sleeping in the tent in the garden, naturally Olivia, the child in her mothers eyes that deserved every privilege imaginable was able to sleep with her. Upon waking in the morning however Amelia found herself alone in the tent. Franticly a search began for Olivia, with the help of the police and the neighbourhood hours were spent trawling the streets and undergrowth. Olivia was never to be seen again.
In the year 1979 Michelle was setting up home as a young house wife and mother to one, a baby girl named Tanya. Michelle was a troubled girl who did everything out of duty and not out of love. She was already becoming bored of the housewife idea and everyday she became less and less connected emotionally and physically to her husband Keith and daughter Tanya. She was trapped in the life that she no longer wanted for herself and the appreciation she received of her husband was far to none. She lived life in a depressive state drudging herself though each day with less and less awareness of what she was actually doing and what was going on around her. One afternoon after arriving home from work Keith and Michelle had a argument that ended in tragedy.
In 1994 there lived Theo. Theo was an obese man who by the disapproval of his daughter Laura was trying to loose a few pounds. Theo had no real troubles in his life, he was an ordinary father who did nothing wrong but love his daughter too much. It was this love that saw his daughter, his only reason to live, murdered in a freak accident? Or was it?
The introductory three chapters really draw you into the book, it allows you to get to know the characters and the plot lines. After this, the book moves forward to the present time and follows the story of a private detective, Jackson. Jackson, facing family problems of his own adds a touch of something different to the book, he is generally a nice guy but there are hints of something else in the way that he thinks about things. At different points in the book he is presented with the above three cases that failed to get solved all them years ago. With some of the cases, new evidence has come to light where others are reaching for there last hopes of closure. Being separate cases Jackson fails to see what is right before his eyes. Three different cases, in different time periods, but all of these people have a connection, a connection that can give them the answers they are looking for.
The story is captivating and rich in action, there is not a rest point where I thought ok this is getting a little bit boring now, it is just a truly amazing book. The characters are realistic as are the cases. There are some twists and unexpected endings. It is both happy and sad, I had a mix of emotions when I was reading it and I wasn't truly sure If I had happy or sad tears. It is a truly amazing book written by Kate Atkinson. At 425 pages it is not a relatively long book but it is enough to satisfy. Some of the plot lines are not for the faint hearted and contain some upsetting points but it is generally a nice book to read. I would hole heartedly recommend this book. It is both modern and old, funny and sad, captivating and upsetting but it is definitely one not to miss. The only downside to the book is the layout. It is very confusing whilst you are reading it and its not until the very end after you have mulled the book over when you start to realise things and bring the three stories together as one.
The book is currently available to buy from Amazon for a mere 75p. (May 2011)