Shrines of Gaiety

Shrines of Gaiety


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Gabi's Review


Nellie Coker is the formidable owner of a string of nightclubs in London's most fashionable streets with exotic names like The Sphinx and The Amethyst that attract a lively and colourful clientele. Together with her children Ma Coker fends off all who seek to undermine her empire. Though she is aging, superstitious and haunted Nellie earns our respect from start to finish. 


I loved the theatricality of this book! The pacy engaging setting of 1920's London's nightlife, the iconic characters, the evolution of its plot, just everything about it adds up to satisfying. Kate Atkinson masters her huge cast of characters brilliantly, there is not one that does not live and breathe on the page which is hard to achieve.  She is comically remorseless with some, like Ramsey Nellie's effeminate youngest son, generous with others, the gentle Detective Inspector Frobisher, but time spent in any of their company is hugely enjoyable.


The ending has been criticized as a bit of a hasty summing up, but to me it felt like an appropriate curtain call for a cast lives long beyond the final page. I spent much of the novel laughing out loud or smiling for most of it. Kate Atkinson is having fun with this, I did too and can thoroughly recommend it.

Vendors Review


From the inimitable bestselling author, Kate Atkinson, a mesmerising novel set in Soho in the 1920s, when gangsters and politicians, peers and dancing girls, rubbed shoulders in a dazzling new world.

1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.

The notorious queen of this glittering world is Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie's empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho's gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost.

With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson brings together a glittering cast of characters in a truly mesmeric novel that captures the uncertainty and mutability of life; of a world in which nothing is quite as it seems.