Review 1863: Not the End of the World

I was fairly sure I had read everything by Kate Atkinson, but I couldn’t remember Not the End of the World. So, I decided to revisit it.

This collection of stories is a relatively early book. Some of the stories are apocalyptic or macabre, some have an element of magical realism, some are whimsical, some capture a moment in ordinary life. Although the stories stand alone, some of them are linked by recurring characters or by more subtle means. I suspect, if you were very attentive, you could find many links. For example, in the first story, “Charlene and Trudi Go Shopping,” the two have a conversation about wedding favors that is repeated in “Wedding Favors” between two different characters. And is the accident driven past by a character in one story the one that kills another character in another story?

Atkinson’s prose is, as always, witty and vivid. I found a few of the characters, like the battling teenage siblings in “Dissonance,” irritating but realistic. On the other hand, a boy who looks like a fish turns out to be the son of Triton. A bold girl removes a cloak from an old lady and the old lady disintegrates. A dead woman tries to get back her life. An adopted alley cat grows bigger and bigger and bigger.

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10 thoughts on “Review 1863: Not the End of the World

  1. Helen May 30, 2022 / 2:14 pm

    I’ve read most of Kate Atkinson’s books, but this is one of the few I haven’t read yet. I don’t always like short stories but these sound interesting.

    • whatmeread May 30, 2022 / 2:19 pm

      Yes, that’s my problem, too. It’s okay for short stories but not as good as her longer fiction. I’m guessing it is an earlier book. I am too lazy to look it up.

  2. IronMike May 30, 2022 / 8:21 pm

    Wow. Love her. A British colonel recommended A God in Ruins to me and I was blown away. Then I read Life After Life. (So, the “wrong” way.) I clearly need to read more of her.

  3. Davida Chazan May 31, 2022 / 2:06 am

    Hm… I just saw her new novel, Shrines of Gaiety, on Edelweiss is coming out in late September. I’ve never read anything by her. Maybe I should give her a try?

    • whatmeread May 31, 2022 / 10:11 am

      I don’t know anything about her new novel, but she is excellent.

      • Davida Chazan May 31, 2022 / 11:57 pm

        So… should I try for the ARC or should I read one from her backlist first? If back list, which one would you recommend? (Remember, no fantasy or paranormal stuff.)

      • whatmeread June 1, 2022 / 12:51 am

        Well, it’s hard for me to comment on the ARC, because I don’t know anything about it. Life After Life, which I consider a great book and goes with A God in Ruins is about a woman who keeps redoing her life to try to get it right, so I guess that one wouldn’t work for you. It’s a book that people either love or hate. I don’t usually do magical realism, but I guess it’s what it is, although only for her reliving her life. Maybe you should try Transcription. That was her last book.

      • Davida Chazan June 1, 2022 / 10:33 am

        Ah… I think my husband tried to read Life After Life and DNF it. I’ll look into Transcription, and maybe ask for that ARC as well.

      • whatmeread June 1, 2022 / 10:34 am

        I personally think Life After Life is a masterpiece, but it takes some patience at the beginning. At some point, after seeming repetitive, it just grabs you. But I can understand why some people can’t read it.

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