Started Early, Took My Dog

Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie, #4)Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another solid entry in the Jackson Brodie series – humor, mystery, quirky characters, intertwining plot threads. I was pleased that we got to learn a bit more about Jackson in this book, who has returned to his Yorkshire roots. In the previous novel, the author started with an “event” involving all the major characters and then followed them to a sort of conclusion. This one, starts out with multiple characters and threads, not bringing them together until an “event” toward the end of the book. As always, the plot is impossible to describe. But who can go wrong with kids and dogs?

Tracy Waterhouse leads a quiet, ordered life as a retired police detective-a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross, a habitual offender, dragging a young child through town. Both appear miserable and better off without each other-or so decides Tracy, in a snap decision that surprises herself as much as Kelly. Suddenly burdened with a small child, Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge.

Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, the beloved detective of novels such as Case Histories, is embarking on a different sort of rescue-that of an abused dog. Dog in tow, Jackson is about to learn, along with Tracy, that no good deed goes unpunished.


FreedomFreedom by Jonathan Franzen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am reluctantly giving this one three stars, because I found it very thought provoking. It is a story that will stay with you, although you really can’t stand the characters, and find them highly selfish and disfunctional, and yet you keep reading (or listening) because you want things to work out in the end. Franzen examines the theme of freedom through the often agonizing choices (mostly bad) made by the members of an affluent liberal midwestern family. At the same time he is giving us a very satirical look at contempory America and our obsession with personal liberty at the expense of everyone and every thing around us. The more we seek to be “free”, the more unhappy and disillusioned we become. The personal plays out against history in a kind of parallel breakdown of what it is that holds us together as families and as a nation. Freedom is explored from every possible angle: sexual freedom, the “freedom” of having lots of money, the freedom of divorce, suicide as freedom from pain and despair, and even the mundane choice of letting pet cats roam free outdoors without regard for their bird-loving neighbors. Although he borders on becoming preachy at times, it is clear that this is a carefully crafted novel.

Description: Before now, Patty and Walter Berglund were living a great life – Walter, an environmental lawyer and dedicated family man, and Patty, the perfect wife. But their carefully crafted tapestry of a home with their two children has begun to unravel. Their son Joey is obsessed with the Republican neighbors, with whom Patty is feuding. The presence of Walter’s best friend is making Patty divulge eager attentions elsewhere than to her husband. And Walter’s moral compromises at work are beginning to haunt him.