On a peat and heather island off the West Coast of Scotland, Effie and her mother Nora take refuge in the large mouldering house of their ancestors and tell each other stories. Nora, at first, recounts nothing that Effie really wants to hear, like who her father was - variously Jimmy, Jack, or Ernie.
Effie tells of her life at college in Dundee, the land of cakes and William Wallace, where she lives in a lethargic relationship with Bob, a student who never goes to lectures, seldom gets out of bed, and to whom the Klingons are as real as the French and the Germans (more real than the Luxemburgers).
But strange things are happening. Why is Effie being followed? Is someone killing the old people? And where is the mysterious yellow dog?
In a brilliant comic narrative which explores the nonsensical nature of language and meaning, Kate Atkinson creates a magical masterpiece.
- Publication Date:
- 06 / 04 / 2001
- 127 x 198 x 31mm
Another excellent dose of Atkinson
Emotionally Weird is the third stand-alone novel by award-winning British author, Kate Atkinson. It is the early seventies and twenty-one-year-old Euphemia Andrews (Effie) goes home to the familyâ€™s summer holiday house on a remote west coast Scottish island where she shares stories with her mother Eleanora (Nora). Effie relates recent events in her life at University in Dundee; Nora, at first unforthcoming, begins to reveal facts about Effieâ€™s true heritage (like her real surname), eventually relating the history of the Stuart-Murray family, including the death of the aunt after whom Effie was named. In Dundee, while trying to meet essay deadlines for her English degree and thinking about leaving the incredibly lazy Bob, Effie becomes convinced she is being followed: thereâ€™s this woman in a red coat; and a middle-aged ex-cop turned PI named Chick driving a white Cortina keeps turning up. There are a few deaths that may or may not be natural; several people around her believe someone is trying to kill them; her friend Terri is looking for a lost yellow dog; her tutorâ€™s son is released from prison. Effie relates the events at Dundee like a novel, with Nora interrupting to critique her characters, plot and dialogue. Similarly, Effie interjects into Noraâ€™s story-telling.
Atkinsonâ€™s character descriptions (and there is a large cast) are marvellously evocative. The description of the English tutorial (obviously taken from Atkinsonâ€™s own experience) is at once blindingly accurate and hilariously funny. The ongoing commentary on creative writing and the (over-)analysis of literature is clever and amusing. The atmosphere of early seventies is expertly conveyed. This is effectively a story (or several) within a story within a story, and Atkinson manages to include snippets of poetry, a play, a medieval fantasy saga, a crime novel, a metaphysical epic tome, and a Mills & Boon style romance, each printed in its own appropriate text style. While Effieâ€™s story does seem to ramble on a bit, drawing criticism from Nora, Emotionally Weird has plenty of humour (some of it quite black) and enough intrigue to keep the reader engaged to the final pages. Another excellent dose of Atkinson.