When we last posted about Kate Atkinson's upcoming novel, Started Early, Took My Dog, I had hopes the book would appear this summer. Alas, August 19 was the U.K. pub date. According to the latest Little Brown catalog, U.S. readers will have to wait until March 21, 2011 to read the book, which will appear under the Regan Arthur imprint.
started early, took my dog cover
What we do have: a description, from the catalog.

Tracy Waterhouse leads a quiet, ordered life as a retired police detective—a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross, a habitual offender, dragging a young child through town. Both appear miserable and better off without each other—or so Tracy concludes, in a snap decision that surprises herself as much as Kelly. Suddenly burdened with a small child, Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge.

Meanwhile, former detective Jackson Brodie is embarking on a different sort of rescue—that of an abused dog. Dog in tow, Jackson is about to learn, along with Tracy, that no good deed goes unpunished.

A brief excerpt appears after the jump.

Related in BookPage: Our interview with Kate Atkinson for One Good Turn. Reviews of Case Histories and When Will there Be Good News?

The kid was dressed in various shades of pink, with the addition of a little pink rucksack stuck on her back like a barnacle, so that the general impression was of a misshapen marshmallow. Someone—surely not Kelly—had attempted to plait the kid’s stringy hair. The pink and the plaits signaled her gender, something not immediately obvious from her podgy, androgynous features.

She was a small lumpy kind of kid but there was a spark of something in her eyes. Life perhaps. Soiled but not broken. Yet. What chance did this kid have with Kelly as her mother? Realistically?

A bus was approaching, indicating, slowing down.

Something gave inside Tracy. A small floodgate letting out a race of despair and frustration as she contemplated the blank but already soiled canvas of the kid’s future. Tracy didn’t know how it happened. One moment she was standing at a bus-stop on Woodhouse Lane, contemplating the human wreckage that was Kelly Cross, the next she was saying to her, ‘How much?’

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