Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson – Blog Tour Review

Title: Shrines of Gaiety

Author: Kate Atkinson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 27th September 2022

Rating: 5/5



1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.

At the heart of this glittering world is notorious Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie’s empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho’s gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost.

With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson brings together a glittering cast of characters in a truly mesmeric novel that captures the uncertainty and mutability of life; of a world in which nothing is quite as it seems.


A new book from Kate Atkinson is always a huge treat and Shrines of Gaiety is further confirmation of the author’s indomitable talent. The story follows a large cast of characters in postwar London with the notorious and unyielding matriarch, Nellie Coker, at the heart of this dark underworld. Often, a book with multiple narrators fails to connect completely with the reader, however there is no danger of that here. These characters are brought to life so vividly and expertly that the chorus of different voices never feels overwhelming at all and in fact feels just right. This is helped by the skill with which Atkinson writes about the time period. Shrines of Gaiety is so authentic that it actually feels like it was written in 1926. It has an immediacy to it that I think is relatively rare in historical fiction and adds yet another layer of enjoyment.

The biggest strength that Shrines of Gaiety has in its considerable arsenal is the sparkling wit of the writing. The use of language is exceptional – with words flowing effortlessly and engaging the reader from start to finish. It is, in some respects, a very dark story but there is also a wry humour which makes it an utterly charming read. Shrines of Gaiety is going straight on my list of top books of the year – vivid in its detail, glittering with wit and hugely entertaining – a very easy 5 stars from me!


Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.

Buy the book:

Waterstones | Blackwell’s | Amazon

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