A rambly, unfocused novel, moving back and forth in time, and nesting times, for no apparent reason. But there is some nice stuff here and there, and some interesting characters. Here is the hero, Jackson, musing on literature.
This attempt at betterment had extended beyond paintings and piano rentals and museum artifacts, he had also been grimly working his way through the world’s classics. Fiction had never been Jackson’s thing. Facts seemed challenging enough without making stuff up. What he discovered was that the great novels of the world were about three things — death, money, and sex. Occasionally a whale. But poetry had wormed its way in, uninvited. A Toad, can die of Light! Crazy. So that here he was, thinking of his long-dead, long-lost sister, bolstered by a woman who felt a funeral in her brain.
— Kate Atkinson, Started Early, Took My Dog, p. 48