When Will There Be Good News?

When Will There Be Good News?


Kate Atkinson

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When Will There Be Good News? Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News?. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson was born the daughter of a shopkeeper in York, England. She studied English literature at Dundee University, graduating in 1974. She wrote several award-winning short stories in the 1980s and 1990s, then published her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, in 1995. The novel won the Whitbread Book of the Year award, beating out such accomplished writers as Salman Rushdie, and it was adapted for radio and theatre. Atkinson has written plays for Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre. She is perhaps best known for creating the Jackson Brodie detective novels. The first four Jackson Brodie novels were adapted for television in the BBC’s Case Histories in 2011. Atkinson was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2011 for her literary contributions.
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Historical Context of When Will There Be Good News?

Both Reggie’s unnamed father and Jackson Brodie are veterans of the Gulf War (1990-1991), a war between a United States-led coalition of 35 nations and Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of neighboring Kuwait. The United Kingdom had the strongest European presence in the coalition, deploying more than 50,000 members of the British Armed Forces. The theme of heroin addiction and its ravaging effects on poorer parts of Edinburgh was explored in the 1993 Irvine Welsh novel Trainspotting and the 1996 film of the same name. Despite being tormented by her drug-dealing brother, Billy, and lacking the means to stay enrolled in her private school, Reggie perseveres in studying for her A-levels, a series of advanced qualifying exams expected for university admission.

Other Books Related to When Will There Be Good News?

Although Atkinson’s novels are considered to be more “soft-boiled” mysteries than Ian Rankin’s grittier Inspector Rebus crime fiction, the latter series, like some of the Jackson Brodie books, is set in Edinburgh. Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 is another example of this kind of character-driven thriller set in the United Kingdom. Reggie Chase identifies with and quotes from many different literary works and characters throughout the novel, perhaps especially Great Expectations, because of her fascination with fellow “plucky orphans.” When Will There Be Good News? is preceded in the Jackson Brodie series by Case Histories (2004) and One Good Turn (2006); it’s followed by Started Early, Took My Dog (2010) and Big Sky (2019).
Key Facts about When Will There Be Good News?
  • Full Title: When Will There Be Good News?
  • When Written: 2008
  • Where Written: United Kingdom
  • When Published: 2008
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Mystery/crime
  • Setting: Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • Climax: Joanna Hunter is found by Jackson Brodie and Reggie Chase
  • Antagonist: Andrew Decker
  • Point of View: Alternating third person limited

Extra Credit for When Will There Be Good News?

BBC Adaptation. When Will There Be Good News? was adapted for television in 2011. It was the third episode of a three-part BBC miniseries, Case Histories, based on the first three Jackson Brodie novels. English actor Jason Isaacs plays Jackson Brodie.

Reggie’s Reading List. Many of the chapter titles in When Will There Be Good News? are drawn from literary works referenced by characters throughout the novel, especially works covered in Reggie’s curriculum as she studies for her A-levels. These include Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, Dickens’s Great Expectations, Virgil’s The Aeneid, and Hemingway’s short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”