Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson is a book about corruption in 1920’s London club scene. It shows perspectives of the club owners, the cops trying to take them down and the people who get pulled down in the muck with them. The characterization has really clever tidbits about every character and what their hopes and dreams are. The story is a bit of a mess since we get about 20 character perspectives and the story is sometimes told out of order. I’m familiar with this approach and felt it was way better done in her novel Case Histories but that is only with 5 perspectives compared to 20. When you get 20 or so characters your going to get characters the reader doesn’t care for and I didn’t care for 7 out of the 20. The story was interesting but I did not gel with the way it was told pretty much from the beginning. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year because my favorite book of all time is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Where that book is pretty linear I prefer that writing style from her. This book would have been so much better if it followed 5 perspectives that up to 20. for those that read it I would have chose, Nelly, Frobisher, Niven, Gwendolyn, and Freda maybe add Ramsey , but that is it, cut out all the random perspectives, or family members that don’t matter. The climax was okay it jumped around a lot because of all the perspectives so we just get bits and pieces of it I much preferred the club shooting to the climax. The pace was not bad but the changes in perspective slowed it down. Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday Books for giving me a copy to review. Shrines of Gaiety is published on September 27 2022.

Plot Summary: Nellie Coker has just been released from prison, she a club owner of 5 of the premiere clubs of London, and rival club owners, ex-lovers, and the police are trying to take her and her clubs down. Nellie has 5 kids that have been running he business while she was out and likes it that way. Frobisher is a cop that wants to take her down mainly because of the clubs deals in prostitutions of young girls. Frobisher runs into Gwendolyn of York as she is chasing down to girls who left York for London and dream of fame. Frobisher thanks Gwendolyn would be a great undercover agent since she has to go into the clubs anyway and recruits her to spy. Gwendolyn catches the eye of Niven Coker Nellie’s son and lets her get in close to the family and the clubs. Freda one of the missing girls will experience the mean streets of London as she finds out fame comes with a price.

What I Liked: Gwendolyn and Frobisher were by far my favorite characters and the most fleshed out. I did like the running gag of London is cursed by King Tut as his remains were recently found and on display in London. I thought the clubs were interesting and wish they were featured a little bit more. I like what happens to Freda and Ramsey’s characters at the end. I liked the time period of 1920’s London it is one I have not read a lot of.

What I Disliked: Too many characters ruin the momentum of the book and the extra perspectives just weren’t needed. I felt the serial killer plot was a real letdown and could have been featured more but felt like an after thought.

Recommendation: This hurts me not to recommend but this book was a miss for me on many levels. I will say this book does have it’s fans who enjoyed the book far more than me since it is nominated for Best Historical Fiction in Goodreads Choice Awards. But the book didn’t work out for me and can not recommend it to my followers. Do please read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson the book will make you think and take perspective on your own life. I rated Shrines of Gaiety 2 out of 5 stars.


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