||[Feb. 24th, 2015|08:58 pm]
I am currently reading - and enjoying - Kate Atkinson's Case Histories. I don't often read a book with as little advance information as this: I've read at least one book by Kate Atkinson before, but not recently, and not one of her detective stories, of which this is the first. I remember it being favourably reviewed when it was first published, but anything I knew about the story is long gone.
It opens in 1970, in a summer heatwave, with four children, four sisters, running wild: their father is an academic who absents himself from domestic matters, their mother is simply overwhelmed. So the girls are left to their own devices. I thought - of course I did - of Diana Wynne Jones's Time of the Ghost.
I knew this book was going to go off in a different direction - after all, the detective would be turning up sooner or later - but there was something about the shape of the relationship between four sisters that stayed with me as I was falling asleep. There are four sisters in Anne Fine's sour comedy for adults, Telling Liddy, too. There's quite a lot of autobiography in Time of the Ghost (Diana Wynne Jones was one of four sisters, and put a lot of their childhood into the book), rather less in Telling Liddy though Anne Fine is one of five sisters. I've heard her say that if she'd put five sisters into the book, it would have stretched credulity, though I wondered whether there was simply something pleasing about the shape made by those four sisters.
I fell asleep thinking about this, and whether there were any other books about four sisters - not brothers and sisters, not the tribes of children produced by Jo Maynard to attend the Chalet School, just four sisters. And woke up thinking "Of course! Little Women!"
My reading process, let me show it to you.