Human Croquet

The brilliant second novel from the author of the Whitbread prizewinner Behind the Scenes at the Museum.

Once it had been the great forest of Lythe. And here, in the beginning, lived the Fairfaxes, grandly, at Fairfax Manor.

But over the centuries the forest had been destroyed, replaced by Streets of Trees. The Fairfaxes have dwindled too; now they live in ‘Arden’ at the end of Hawthorne Close and are hardly a family at all.

But Isobel Fairfax, who drops into pockets of time and out again, knows about the past. She is sixteen and waiting for the return of her mother – the thin, dangerous Eliza with her scent of nicotine, Arpège and sex, whose disappearance is part of the mystery that still remains at the heart of the forest.

“Maybe we’re all the living dead, reconstituted from the dust of the dead.”

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Vivid and intriguing…fizzles and crackles along…a tour de force.


Wonderfully eloquent and forceful Kate Atkinson goes at the same pace in her second novel as she did in her first…welcome back, wild north-easter…brilliant and engrossing.

Penelope Fitzgerald, Evening Standard

Vivid, richly imaginative, hilarious and frightening by turns.


Huge, exhilarating, loving and detailed eruption of a novel…an utterly intoxicating display of novelistic elan…big and joyous, literary and accessible…storytelling at its buoyant best.

The Scotman

Part ghost story, part murder mystery, this is an exquisitely written, literary novel that reads as compellingly as any thriller.


A stunner of a second novel…a gutsy book, wrenched from the heart and written with tremendous force, immersing you in its strange, eccentric world.

Marie Claire

The quirky imagination, subversive humour and instinct for domestic chaos that Atkinson displayed in her first novel…are rampantly evident again.

Publishers Weekly

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