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Emotionally Weird

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,679 Ratings  ·  445 Reviews
On a Weather-Beaten Island Off The Coast of Scotland, Effie and her mother, Nora, take refuge in a mouldering house and tell each other stories. Nora, at first, recounts nothing that Effie really wants to hear -- like who her real father was. Effie tells various versions of her life at college, where in fact she lives with Bob, a student who seldom gets out of bed, and to ...more
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Little Brown and Company (first published 2000)
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Oct 01, 2011 Greg rated it really liked it
Can you see the cover of Emotionally Weird that I read? I don't know, but if it's a peach colored cover with a sort of crappy drawing of a redheaded woman smoking and a dog then you are seeing it? Or maybe you are seeing the new cover, which is dark and fits with the covers of Kate Atkinson's later novels? Or maybe you see the British covers with the big and dopey but cute looking dog on the cover? I read the peach colored one, with the girly script. The one that screams early to mid-ought chick ...more
Aug 22, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a novel most likely to be appreciated by (a) those who studied English literature at university during the 1970s (b) readers familiar with the conventions of postmodern fiction and (c) fans of Kate Atkinson's quirky style and predilection for writing about dysfunctional families.

In essence, this is a novel about words and story-telling. Effie and her mother (view spoiler) Nora are the two narrators. Together in a rundown house on a desolate is

More like 3.5 stars.

While I enjoyed this, I'm not at all sure what to make of it or how to review it. The first part was laugh out loud funny in places (especially if you've ever been a uni student--lets face it, we all knew someone like Bob) but I'm sure I missed the finer points Atkinson was making about post modernism and literature. In the end it all seemed to go nowhere but I'm pretty sure that was the point.

I'm glad I read it though as I love Atkinson's writing and loved how she played wit
Sep 02, 2014 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emotionally Weird is the third stand-alone novel by award-winning British author, Kate Atkinson. It is the early seventies and twenty-one-year-old Euphemia Andrews (Effie) goes home to the family’s summer holiday house on a remote west coast Scottish island where she shares stories with her mother Eleanora (Nora). Effie relates recent events in her life at University in Dundee; Nora, at first unforthcoming, begins to reveal facts about Effie’s true heritage (like her real surname), eventually re ...more
Feb 07, 2012 Sibyl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed and it was an effort to get through to the end.

Although Kate Atkinson is rarely dull, this novel is meandering and comes perilously close to being self-indulgent.

It's as if the writer is having so much fun recalling her own time as an English student, satirising her would-be-radical classmates and dysfunctional lecturers, that she loses sight of the fact that this territory has been thoroughly covered by other novelists. (It's like a post-modernist take on David Lodge.) Despit
Nov 18, 2009 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm about 2/3 of the way through and I have guffawed and giggled hysterically more while reading this than I have in the past five years altogether. I've HAD to read passages out loud to my poor husband when all he wanted to do was sleep or check his emails. My dog and cat wonder what the heck is causing my bizarre behavior, as I've been hitherto a calmish person. I sure hope Atkinson can bring this to a good conclusion, but even if she can't, I'll be grateful for what she's done so far. Review ...more
Diane Dickson
Well, I just don't know. I finished this a few days ago and I am still trying to make up my mind. I have enjoyed all the other Atkinson books I have read and I enjoyed this - kind of. It was a bit like picking at a spot in a way, I was getting pleasure from it but I couldn't say why.

To be honest there was a section in the middle where I would have given up if I'd been the sort of person who gives up on books, this only happens when they are very,very dire. This certainly wasn't that, the writin
Feb 10, 2014 Bandit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sort of book I appreciated more in retrospect than during the reading itself. Comprised of two stories really, with minor offshoots, on the whole it works, but it isn't even. In fact the Effie's origin story, the one that takes up the least amount of literary real estate by far, is also by far is the most interesting. The other half, the young Effie's college years, is too irreverent or something like that to be wholly engaging. Because the storylines are interwoven, there is a very ...more
My father used to write for a student's journal in college back in the sixties. Students would send in short stories full of twisty, tormented characters who wore black and smoked a lot, their general air of dejection and resolution that the world was ending soon the most striking thing about them. This book (and also the other Atkinson I picked up, One Good Turn) were populated with such characters - people who didn't give a damn anymore and just wanted help getting through the night.

I didn't l
May 11, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this clever and humorous novel, Kate Atkinson deploys various post-modern novel techniques (bickering narrators, meta-discussion of the story being told, malleable text, and various novels-within-novels set out in varied--and clever--typefaces) to skewer the academy and its fascination with, well, the post-modern novel.

Effie and her mother (or, rather, "mother") Nora are on a desolate, ruined Scottish island telling their life stories, while Effie's story of university life in 1972--complete
Apr 18, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At times the epithet “clever” is used to belittle a novel’s worth. Certainly not in this case, for Atkinson’s cleverness plays an intricate role in Emotionally Weird’s theme of “just what is fiction.” A student in a class I taught commented after reading this book that the novel was having a dialogue with itself. That is perfectly correct. Everything--from the narrator Effie’s paper on Henry James’s assessment of Middlemarch as forsaking plot, to Nora’s urgent comments to hurry the plot along, t ...more
Part comic novel, part crime novel, part troubled family past and ALL meta-storytelling. Effie, our heroine, is stranded in the middle of a raging storm on a remote Scottish isle with the person she has always believed was her mother. Each of them tell their own stories, with Effie doing the majority of the storytelling, both about her recent experiences at university and the crime novel she's writing for her creative writing class. Nora's story, while much shorter in words, is really the crux o ...more
Kirsty Darbyshire

I really enjoyed Behind the Scenes at the Museum for its twisted up story and uncertain narration but I could never get into Atkinson's second book Human Croquet, I must try again. I picked up this book in the book shop in two minds about whether to try it and it grabbed me instantly and I've really enjoyed reading it.

As in Museum I was never quite sure where this story was going or what the main storyline was but the writing pulled me in and carried me along on a tide of interesting happenings

Jan 18, 2010 Lena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
There are many stories being told simultaneously in this layered novel from Kate Atkinson. The main tale is spun by narrator Effie about her life in college as an English major and a series of quirky events that somehow led her to the remote Scottish island where she is telling this story to her mother Nora. Segments of a novel Effie is writing, as well as entertaining samplings of the literary explorations of her peers, are mixed within Effie's tale. But Effie's narrative is also broken up by c ...more
Jun 14, 2007 Trin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, english-lit
Emotionally Weird fullfilled the promise of Behind the Scenes at the Museum much better than Human Croquet did. As usual, Atkinson has a unique touch, and this story, much of which revolves around a bunch of college students in a creative writing class, seems tailor-made for English major-me. I adore the excerpts from the various students' works-in-progress; delivered by a lesser writer, they would seem clichéd, but in Atkinson's hand, each one is wonderfully awful and hilarious.

I bought my co
Carl R.
Apr 13, 2015 Carl R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We now return to one of my favorite authors. I haven’t visited Kate Atkinson since her splendid Life After Life. She still holds the Writer Working trophy for the most inventive title—Left Early, Took My Dog.

Although she’s always been a supremely inventive storyteller, she entered new territory with Life After Life, a work which borders on fantasy/science fiction in that the characters seem to exist simultaneously in different time and space, sort of like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. Though not qui
Christine Stormont
I thought this book was extremely boring and self indulgent and I couldn't finish it. I'm a great fan of Kate Atkinson's work so I was looking forward to reading this but I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.
Jim Leckband
One of the benefits of being an established writer is the ability to publish books that would not have a ghost of a chance of advancing through a slush pile of an agent or publisher. This imagined agent/publisher might have been enticed by the first few pages, especially if they are adventurous, but the murky middle would have sent the unknown author's pages to the bin.

As I was wading through that murky middle, I thought "This is what happens when an author is trying to write themselves out of w
Joannemarie O'Donnell
Kate Atkinson must have a mind like a steel trap. Her artistry with the written word never fails to impress, amuse and entertain me. Somehow, all of the crazy zig zagging of seemingly unrelated information manages to come together in a cohesive, believable tightly wound ball of plot.

Here, Nora and Effie are huddled up on a storm ravaged island sharing stories. The reader is left to puzzle what is real or true and what is just farce and poetic license. Emotionally Weird is a mystery, a comedy an
Mavis Thresher
Feb 11, 2015 Mavis Thresher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Effie and her mother Norah, who claims to have experienced a virgin birth. Effie takes a creative writing course at Dundee University which appears to be full of eccentrics, both faculty and students. Effie, several fellow students and a few of the professors are working on predictably rotten creative writing projects, from which Atkinson quotes frequently in an annoying array of typefaces. The class lectures consist of comically impenetrable lit-theory jargon. Since she’s not doing ...more
Feb 05, 2015 Riff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An extremely disappointing book, which begins by setting expectations high only to dash them. It’s a novel of two parts, framed and occasionally interrupted by an interesting and beautifully composed story involving a mother and daughter who themselves tell one another stories. This slight part of the book could have been the making for a wonderful novel, but unfortunately it turns out to be merely the packaging to a most tiresome text about university life that plods without pleasure or purpose ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Alena rated it liked it
This novel has so much confusion -- stories within stories, mysterious characters coming and going, multiple fonts, unreliable narrator(s) -- all purposeful. I was often lost, but never frustrated or disinterested because it also has Atkinson's wit, humor and beautiful writing.

I suppose there's a plot -- mother and daughter on a decaying Scottish island trying to tell their personal truths, claim identity. It's all rather circular and a little bit beside the point (although, true to Atkinson's o
Karen maslen
Jan 29, 2012 Karen maslen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The latest magical mystery tour de force from one of Britain’s most original novelists – winner of the Whitbread First Novel Award for Behind the Scenes at the Museum.

On a peat and heather island off the West Coast of Scotland, Effie and her mother, Nora, take refuge in the large mouldering house of their ancestors and tell each other stories. Nora, at first, recounts nothing that Effie really wants to hear, such as the identity of her real father – variously Jimmy, Jack, or Ernie. Effie tells o
Jan 14, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the last of my reviews in my mad dash to read all the pre-Jackson Brodie books and, of them all, I think I enjoyed this one the most, at least if my repeated snorts of amusement were anything to go by. Descriptions, turns or phrase and character comments, deftly and sharply written, and downright amusing.

The story has the disturbing elements present in her other books, but they were revealed later in the book and they were more third-person descriptions which made for a more indirect imp
Kate Atkinson was recommended to me. At the library I picked up the only book by the author, Emotionally Weird. It was a weird book. From amazon:

A thoroughly original and hilarious novel about mothers, daughters, and love, by the author of Behind the Scenes at the Museum.

On a weather-beaten island off the coast of Scotland, Effie and her mother, Nora, take refuge in the large, mouldering house of their ancestors and tell each other stories. Nora, at first, recounts nothing that Effie really want
Josh Ang
Jan 25, 2011 Josh Ang rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a waste of her incredible talent! Atkinson's wry humor and ascerbic descriptions were perfect for the collection of short stories 'Not the End of the World' as well as comic-detective fiction novel 'One Good Turn'.

However, 'Emotionally Weird' becomes a tangled self-conscious mess as Atkinson tries to weave those elements in with the use of the frame narrative technique and an unreliable narrator, Effie. The interlocutions between her and her mother, Nora, sometimes jar, rather than add to
Sep 14, 2013 Kit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like books that do more than start at the beginning, shove on through the middle and then end; where it's all one point of view, one chronology, basically only one story. This one is not that; it's a treat. I don't love the more recent Kate Atkinson books--seems as if her vision and focus has gotten darker and darker over the years, but EMOTIONALLY WEIRD is a romp, especially for people who remember the aimless druggy days of the early 1970s. This book threads multiple stories, points of view ...more
Feb 24, 2010 Marcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a delightful book. It was so much fun to read! The story is one of a mother and daughter who take refuge on an island off the coast of Scotland. The daughter, Effie, was born on the island but taken away as a newborn and has never been back. Her mother, Nora, has also not been back since Effie's birth. While on the island, Effie tells about her life in college. Nora complains how many characters are in Effie's stories. And, there are tons of them. Yet, I would not want to eliminate ...more
Sep 06, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well this is the weirdest book I have read so far this year. Even thinking about trying to describe the plot has me scratching my head and thinking where on Earth can I begin?

Effie, our lead character, is staying with her "mother" Nora on a tiny Scottish island in their inherited (but rapidly decaying) family holiday home and they tell each other stories of their life to pass the time. Effie's focuses on her life as a student at the University of Dundee. Nora slowly reveals the secret of Effie's
Jun 22, 2009 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note to self: if I have found an author who instantly becomes one of my favorite detective novelists (in her Jackson Brodie series (almost just wrote Jackson Browne, which is just downright stupid), a character that I expected to be a detective in the Robert Parker's Spenser mold but actually is much more of a sympathetic character (exchange Spenser's love of food and women with Brodie's love-from-a-distance relationship with his daughter and a constant ability/failure to get tangled in the live ...more
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Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories,
More about Kate Atkinson...

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“Some people spend their whole lives looking for themselves, yet our self is the one thing we surely cannot lose (how like a cheap philosopher I am become, staying in this benighted place). From the moment we are conceived it is the pattern in our blood and our bones are printed through with it like sticks of seaside rock. Nora, on the other hand, says that she’s surprised anyone knows who they are, considering that every cell and molecule in our bodies has been replaced many times over since we were born.” 9 likes
“I can't help but think that it's an unfortunate custom to name children after people who come to sticky ends. Even if they are fictional characters, it doesn't bode well for the poor things. There are too many Judes and Tesses and Clarissas and Cordelias around. If we must name our children after literary figures then we should search out happy ones, although it's true they are much harder to find.” 9 likes
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