Gill Chedgey’s Ten Dates With Kates

Article published on November 21, 2017.

I’m not sure when this started. I can’t even be sure who it started with. But this weird phenomenon I am experiencing allows me to enjoy any book written by someone with the Christian name of Kate! Irrational? Yes. Illogical? Yes. But… true! Yes!

1. Kate Atkinson – I think the first might have been Kate Atkinson. I began with the Jackson Brodie stories because I do enjoy a good crime series. Having read all of those, I soon devoured everything she’s written and discovered that she’s a diverse writer with plenty of substance. I think Life After Life is my favourite book of hers. I think the premise and execution are really clever.

2. Kate Morton – I used to belong to a book site called Read It Swap It, which recently has ceased to be, sadly. You entered a list of books you were willing to swap. Other members could request your books and vice versa. All you paid was the postage costs. I swapped a Kate Morton book one time, The House at Riverton, because it was a frequently requested book on the site and I was curious. I loved it! I recently saw someone on social media describe such books as ‘Big House’ books. Perfect! I’ve now read all of hers. She’s actually Australian but the books always come across as very English. I think The Forgotten Garden is my favourite, quite gothic and haunting in mood.

3. Kate Mosse – I picked up a copy of Labyrinth in a charity shop just to see what all the fuss was about!! I loved the dual chronology. Being a bit of a history buff I loved the historical aspects of it. I subsequently read Sepulchre and The Winter Ghosts, although Labyrinth remains my favourite. I have a couple more on my TBR shelves just waiting.

4. Kate Riordan – I was sent a copy of The Girl in the Photograph to review and I thoroughly enjoyed it. At about the same time I was given a Kindle as a birthday present. So I bought Birdcage Walk, which has the dubious accolade of being my first Kindle purchase (and almost my last! Can’t stand the thing!). I struggle with reading on Kindles, but never with reading Kate Riordan. I’ve read them all except The Red Letter. There’s a little of the ‘Big House” feel in some of her work but also a diversity and some history. I find her style very easy and flowing.

5. Kate Summerscale – I watched The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher on TV and was intrigued enough to want to read the book. I did and I loved the way Kate Summerscale wrote. Reading a thoroughly researched account of the whole incident made things clear and more detailed than the TV interpretation. I have The Queen of Whale Cay on my ‘Want to Read’ list but so far I haven’t procured a copy.

6. Kate Fox – I have a close friend who married a Japanese chap back in the 80s and has lived in Japan ever since, not always willingly, so I think her interest with England and all things English may have caused her to gift me a copy of Kate Fox’s book Watching the English. It’s an engrossing read with plenty of humour and wry observations as to our nationality. Maybe dated now as the last ten years have provoked more change in our behaviours but many of the fundamentals remain the same.

7. Kate Furnivall – I won a copy of The Betrayal. I knew nothing about this Kate before I won the book. And for some reason I was expecting a fluffy, chick lit sort of tale. But it was nothing like! It was an historical tale about an aviatrix and a socialite and was thoroughly gripping.

8. Kate Howard – This was another prize. I won this from Nudge!! The Ornatrix was a thoroughly original story, evocative with a great structure, and little beauty recipes in between the chapters. Set in sixteenth century Italy it has much to say about beauty and our perception of it. A debut novel – I’ve yet to come across any subsequent work by Ms. Howard unless she is the same Kate Howard who writes the Ninjago books?

9. Kate Dunn – I chose a book from Nudge to review purely because the writer’s Christian name was Kate! I had a perverse desire to disprove my theory that I like all books by Kates. It didn’t work. The Dragonfly was a deceptive story that blossomed into a moving tale and caused me to shed tears.

10. Kate McQuaile – I hadn’t read this Kate’s first novel, but I was sent a copy of her second to review. Without a Word has an interesting premise that I had not encountered before, which renders it quite contemporary and original, but I felt the novel relied on that premise to sustain it. There was a great twist at the end which I never saw coming. Amazon claim that this is a mystery that everyone is raving about but I haven’t come across any ravers as yet! Maybe it’s a slow burner.

Gill Chedgey
November 2017

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