Human Croquet

Human Croquet

Book - 1997
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Baker & Taylor
Once part of a vast expanse where a wealthy Elizabethan family settled and built Fairfax Manor, but now, in the mid 1960s, it has become a disintegrated forest where the destroyed, dysfunctional Fairfax family continues to crumble. Tour.

Blackwell North Amer
Once upon a time, in far-off England, there was a small village surrounded by a mighty forest, where a dark stranger, one Francis Fairfax, arrived to build a stately home. Fairfax Manor was renowned throughout the land for its feudal pleasures, its visit from the Queen, and the mysterious beauty of Lady Fairfax, who one day cursed the Fairfax name and vanished into the forest, never to be seen again except in a ghostly haze.
Fast-forward to 1960...Over the centuries the forest has been destroyed, and the Fairfaxes have dwindled, too; now they are the local grocers to their suburb of Glebelands, a family as disintegrated as its ancestral home. It is here that young Isobel Fairfax awakens on the morning of her sixteenth birthday, a day that will change everything she knows and understands about her past and her future. Helping celebrate (if one could call it that) are the members of her strange and distracted family: There is Vinny, Maiden Aunt from Hell; Gordon, Isobel's father, who disappeared for seven years; and Charles, her elder brother, who divides his time between searching for aliens and waiting for the return of their long-gone mother, Eliza.
And back again...As her day progresses, Isobel is pulled into brief time warps and extended periods of omniscience, from the days of the first Fairfax to the roaring twenties to World War II, through which she learns the truth about her family and about her mother, whose disappearance is part of the secret that remains at the heart of the forest.

& Taylor

Once part of a vast expanse where a wealthy Elizabethan family settled and built Fairfax Manor, by the mid-1960s the village of Lythe has become a disintegrated forest where the destroyed, dysfunctional Fairfax family contines to crumble

Publisher: New York : Picador, 1997.
ISBN: 9780312155506
Branch Call Number: ATK
Characteristics: 349 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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Sep 01, 2017

I found myself pleasantly surprised by Human Croquet. It is similar to Behind the Scenes in that in this case there is a missing mother, and the grief and questions that follow the disappearance of a person. Atkinson picks up on the same multiple realities/time warp themes that she would use again in Life After Life and A God in Ruins. She writes of a white-bread, Blytonesque 1960s England that is familiar to Australian readers of a certain age, but it’s a darker world with incest and abuse. There’s a lot going on here: Shakespeare, the lost forests of Olde England, the theatrical stage, destiny and timetravelling. It’s too convoluted to even try to explain what the plotline is, but there most definitely is one, even though it has been embroidered with other possible scenarios and counterfactuals.
I do enjoy the experience of reading her books, but there’s a sameness about them that is becoming rather stale.

For my complete review see:

WVMLStaffPicks Nov 13, 2014

Better even than her award-winning first novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum, this is a magical novel which in turn reads like a mystery, a family saga and a fairy tale. Although the theme is one of loss and longing it has (suprisingly) some of the funniest dialogue I have encountered in ages.

Jan 20, 2014

Prepare to suspend all disbelief and embrace the sublimely absurd. Atkinson has a gift for taking the mundane, tragic and sort of creepy and turning it into a farcical fairy tale.

I finished the book 2 days ago but I'm still thinking about her characters and what they might be up to.

bdemian Jun 15, 2012

Brilliant & hilarious, with a touch of irreverence to add to gleeful enjoyment. Some digressions go on too long, approaching tedium; most are startlingly original and witty.


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