Audiobook Review: ‘Shrines of Gaiety’ by Kate Atkinson

London 1926. Roaring Twenties.

Corruption. Seduction. Debts due.

It’s 1926. A crowd has gathered outside Holloway Prison. Ma Coker, the Queen of Clubs, is being released.

In a country still recovering from the Great War, London is the focus for a delirious nightlife. In Soho clubs, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign signatories with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.

There, Nellie Coker is a ruthless ruler, ambitious for her six children. Niven is the eldest, his enigmatic character forged in the harsh Somme. But success breeds enemies. Nellie faces threats from without and within. Beneath the gaiety lies a dark underbelly, where one may be all too easily lost.

As always, this latest novel from Kate Atkinson paints detailed, almost Dickensian, descriptions of her settings. Her command of the English language is second-to-none and her precise vocabulary depicts a huge cast of characters in such a way as to make them three-dimensional in every way.

Whilst this is a setting that has been explored before – think Peaky Blinders meets Bugsy Malone – it’s refreshing to read about the London gang scene from a female perspective.

I experienced this novel in its audiobook version, which was read by Jason Watkins. The narration was expressive and did help to bring the story to life, however I was not particularly keen on the way that Watkins read some of the female characters.

This was not my favourite of Atkinson’s novels, and I found the plot to be rather meandering at times. However, the beautifully-creating characters, evocative setting and the author’s mastery of language still made this a worthy read.

Thank you to NetGalley UK, Penguin Random House Uk and Kate Atkinson for an ARC of this audiobook in return for my honest review.

3 thoughts on “Audiobook Review: ‘Shrines of Gaiety’ by Kate Atkinson

  1. I love her books, but didn’t realize she had another one coming out. Nice review, Claire. Too bad it was not as good as so many of her other books, but I will still read it as I love her stories and descriptive writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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