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Emotionally Weird

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  6,660 ratings  ·  636 reviews
A hilarious and utterly original novel about mothers, daughters, and love, by the author of Life After Life.

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 wants to hear--like who her real father was
Paperback, 368 pages
Published July 6th 2001 by Picador (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,660 ratings  ·  636 reviews

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Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 03, 2014 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 i

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
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 31, 2014 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
Will Ansbacher
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, humour
Fifty Shades of Tay *

- So, you’re reviewing Emotionally Weird?

‘Yes, it’s quite good, in a sorta-kinda way. It’s basically a bunch of comic portraits and situations along with some authentic-sounding local colour (if you know Dundee and the silvery Tay, that is). And it's packed with literary allusions, like that one. I didn’t actually laugh out loud, though some of it is quite amusing. But I think Atkinson must have had a lot more fun writing this than I had reading it.’

- OK, but that doesn’t e
Diane Dickson
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Dec 10, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mavis Thresher
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 19, 2007 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
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jess Van Dyne-Evans
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
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Christine Stormont
Dec 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This one was really 2.5 stars for me. I rarely dole out half stars and I don't usually have to deliberate over star allotment. But Emotionally Weird left me conflicted. I liked the first half, was bored for the second half but it does have a pretty good ending with clever last lines. I was disappointed that I didn't love Emotionally Weird, as I usually love Kate Atkinson's experimental novels. But you win some, you lose some.

Our narrator is Effie. She's staying with her mother, Nora, on a rocky
Maurice Arh
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have yet to encounter a Kate Atkinson book I didn’t like. This one no exception. It is a post-modern comic novel, dealing with post-modernism in the only way a serious author can. By relentlessly taking the piss.
If that were all it was, it wouldn’t be much. But the post-modern pisstake is merely a framework to hang a much more humane and observational humour. The story is about a girl and her mother, a book she is writing and a story she is telling. Or somethng like that – it takes a little wh
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Lesley Moseley
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 6-stars
WOW WOW WOW . How on earth have I not read this one before? Read most of all the others. As you can tell, I really enjoyed this one. I kept hoping for a Jabberwocky BY LEWIS CARROLL, reference or intersect. What a joy to be able to check with the online dictionary for most 'new to me' words, however the Scottish vernacular, 'not found'.. Such a treat from the PP's with their limited number of 'sight words'..
Perhaps not everybody's cup of char...
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
The Cats’ Mother
I’m giving up at page 110. I tried, I really did, because I loved her Jackson Brodie books, and I do feel I should read something a bit more literary from time to time, but I was just getting more and more irritated.
What I got so far: Effie is visiting her mother, who lives on a remote Scottish Island, telling stories about life as a student in 1970s Dundee, where she lives with a lump of a boyfriend she doesn’t like, and supposedly studies English.
She goes to a tutorial, then gets half-heartedl
Jun 14, 2007 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
Jim Leckband
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Sharon Curtis
I've loved the Kate Atkinson books I've read but this is the weakest one so far. It is very funny, I laughed out loud a couple of times which is something I rarely do when reading and often had a smile on my face. However, it was so slow moving. The main story (literally a story within the story) is of the main protagonist's last year at University the majority of which has little or nothing to do with the plot whatsoever. In contrast, the ending felt rushed, too much information in too short a ...more
Renita D'Silva
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this funny, irreverent, mad but fiendishly irresistible book.
Dec 03, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Sep 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-fiction
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
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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

Josh Ang
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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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,

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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.” 13 likes
“I was on the verge of something numinous and profound and in one more second the universe was going to crack open and arcana would rain down on my head like grace and all the cosmic mysteries were going to be revealed.” 12 likes
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