A collection of eleven interconnected stories from the author of Shrines of Gaiety and Life After Life. Nothing is quite as it seems. We meet a queen who makes a bargain she cannot keep; a secretary who watches over the life she has just left; a lost man who bets on a horse that may-or may not-have spoken to him.
There’s a fanciful flavour to the mixed bag of stories that follow ... This is a collection of scraps and strands, loosely bound together, as though Atkinson is only tinkering with the worlds she creates and curtails.
Atkinson play[s] fast and loose with reality ... Such exploits can struggle for much resonance, and the results are patchy; perhaps paradoxically, it is when they ally with another of Atkinson’s gifts – conjuring specific social textures from a handful of well-chosen observations ... Shile the culmination of her story is evidently fantastical, the reality that preceded it is all too believable.
The 11 short stories in this collection each weave together, playful in their intertextuality as they nod to other stories in the collection and beyond ... have rarely ever picked up a book again for a second go. But when I read the last page of Normal Rules Don’t Apply I had an intense desire to flick back to the beginning and start again.