Book Review

Shrines of Gaiety: Sprawling novel of 1920s London life beguiles and dazzles

Set in 1926, Kate Atkinson’s family saga is a rich tapestry of plots and sub-plots that will keep readers guessing till the end

Kate Atkinson: her new novel breathes life into a motley crew of heroes and villains, then sets them to work. Picture: Helen Clyne

Kate Atkinson’s 11th novel is set almost a century ago, following the fortunes of the Coker family during inter-war London as their nightclub empire comes under threat from all corners: crooked police officers, returned thieves and the law itself. Shrines of Gaiety begins with matriarch Nellie Coker being freed from Holloway Prison, having served six months for breaching the licensing laws.

Among the crowd watching the release of “Old Ma Coker” are Inspector Frobisher, a ...