Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson - review by Lesley Glaister

Lesley Glaister

Great Fun to Write

Emotionally Weird


Doubleday 352pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Lewis Carroll lurks behind and between the lines of Kate Atkinson’s third novel, Emotionally Weird. His influence is evident in several of the characters, which include one ‘small as a dormouse and almost entirely spherical’, and in the dialogue, which is peppered sneezily with Carroll-like observations: ‘“everything’s got a moral,” I said, “if only you can find it.”’

The ‘I’ is Effie, who wanders as wide-eyed and wondering as Alice herself – sometimes accompanied by a grinning yellow dog, a bumbling mad-hatterish professor, or a baby – through a series of obliquely surreal encounters and adventures. But are they, in fact, real?

Effie’s story – set in Dundee University during the early 1970s, a shivery version of Wonderland – is framed by a narrative in which she and Nora (who may or may not be her mother) are surviving on an abandoned island off the west coast of Scotland, ‘a speck of

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