I have always found Kate Atkinson books hard to review, they are so rich, deeply layered with detailed events, backdrops and characters that to do it any form of justice would take someone much more literary than me.
Shrines of Gaiety is no exception – set after the First World War, the Bright Young Things of the Twenties is all anyone is focusing on. In this book in the depths of Soho nightclubs, we are subjected to women, dance, song, drugs, debts, criminals, gangsters, money, corruption, gambling and sex.
Nellie Coker is the matriarch, released from Holloway back into her family, to her six children. Her stay in prison clearly an oversight by the policeman in her pay to keep this sort of thing happening. It seems Nellie Coker has other plans for the future. And the world and her family need to look out.
DCI John Frobisher, is brought in to clean the streets up and has a special interest in the vast amount of young girls going missing. He believes they are being somehow sucked into Nellie Coker’s world and her nightclubs. When Gwendoline Kelling arrives in his life, herself looking for two teenage girls from York who have come to seek their fortune in London, he thinks he may have a plan to finally clear up these streets.
When these worlds collide, it seems that all is not what it should be and actually are they all simply pieces in a very elaborate game.
Very rich in character, with many people to learn about in the first few chapters to see how they all interact the book then gets going through twists and turns. I couldn’t think of one character who wasn’t well thought out or well rounded., each of them playing a part, no matter how small or big. From Nellie Coker herself to the maid in her own house. Everyone is important to show London and the underbelly of life there in the Twenties. It works and I was enthralled to see where it was all going to take me and I wasn’t disappointed. Neither will you be.
This book is full of romance, history, murder and mystery to name a few genres that it could possible fit into. It doesn’t need to, it fits in as a Kate Atkinson genre.
Think P.G. Wodehouse meets Peaky Blinders.
Think this is the book you must read this year.
Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
Shrines of Gaiety is out now.