Behind the Scenes at the Museum Paperback – 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
This novel is extremely complex, very multi layered; you go back and forth through the years. You can see a character dying in one chapter only to reappear in the next one; it tends to be confusing at times. This book left me with a strange feeling and it really didn't suit my type of reading. On this I prefer leaving the readers to their individual preferences.
This is a British novel, told in a British voice that is at times difficult to understand (not knowing the jargon and the "mixed up" quotation marks) that moves from turn of the century (20th) through two World Wars to the 60s and then present day.
There is a secret in Ruby's family--one involving Ruby, but kept from her. There are hints from cousins, overheard remarks from aunties, but Ruby dismisses then as "confusion"--people mixing up the events of her family history. But following a bitter accusation, she searches for the shoeless shoebox in her mother's closet, she knows she has confirmation of an evil deed.
When the secret is revealed, she confronts her dying mother: why was it never spoken of? Ruby then learns of her mother's sorrow and protective love.
The writing style is engaging and the novel has its charming, funny, moving and suspenseful moments but I found that the alternating format on top of the non-linear historical progression for Ruby’s family history made it more effort than it was worth to try to stay engaged in the story. Also, too many of the story lines are silly or improbable. I can tolerate a few jaw dropping revelations, but the number of surprises is just too many to be believable even in this multi-generational story. Some may find that a creative approach, I think it demonstrates a lack of creativity when a writer has to repeatedly resort to scandal or tragedy to move the story along. While not a saga in terms of the length, a genealogy tree should have been available for the reader to keep track of the generations. If you decide to read this, do it on an iPad so you can easily locate a previous passage that will help you make sense of a new revelation much later in the book.
This museum turns out to be just like the museum that YOUR OWN family owns.
Exhibits at the "Lennox family museum" include:
A. A pink, daisy-shaped, glass button
B. A lucky rabbit's foot
C. A George VI coronation teaspoon
D. A bright, artificial smile
E. Bunty's unbearably sad childhood
F. Rabbit-shaped clouds hanging in the sky like zepplins
G. "Mind your boots, Lily"
H. A plane in a death spin
I. Your sister says not to worry
J. The silver locket
K. Thinking about home
Strange exhibits for a museum, don't you think?
These "exhibits" are simply items and memories belonging to several generations of the Lennox family. Each "exhibit" carries with it a history and a memory that the casual onlooker cannot fathom. Some people, like Ruby Lennox, feel that "the past is what you leave behind in life". However, others, like Patricia Lennox, feel that "the past is what you take with you". You decide. Can you really understand the past by simply viewing an object or are most museums (the real type and the kind you might have in your home) full of objects that are unable to tell their stories without an all-knowing narrator?
This book follows the life of Ruby Lennox from conception onward: "I exist! I am conceived to the chimes of midnight on the mantelpiece in the room across the hall." From this intriguing beginning, the book draws you in. You immediately fall in love with Ruby, her flustered mother Bunty, and her quirky English family.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I didn't enjoy this as much as another book of hers that I read. I found the jumping around in time (which she also does elsewhere) too much. Read morePublished 2 months ago by SueH
Love her writing and this novel did not disappoint. Having visited York & area a few years back made it even more interesting. Plan to keep reading more of her works.Published 19 months ago by Deborah Frankland
Some lovely, dark humour that actually made me laugh out loud. Given the fact that unfinished Kindle editions do not usually "call" to the reader in the way that an... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Ireaditall
I've enjoyed every one of Kate's novels, with this one the last I ended up reading. The novel was a great read and thought provoking. I highly recommend.Published on July 24 2013 by kaptaink
In this book, the fictional Ruby Lennox reflects on her childhood and her family - her bizarre parents and strange, self-absorbed sisters, and ofcourse the small (and large) events... Read morePublished on March 23 2004 by S. Becker
I liked this book so much I delayed reading the last five pages because I didn't want it to end! Though I couldn't always follow the backstory (the author uses chapters called... Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2004
Kate Atkinson's first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, is a book which every piece of "chick literature" should be written like. Read morePublished on Dec 3 2003 by Nobody!
Every now and then one comes across a book that is so brilliant that you want to recommend it to everyone you know. Behind the Scenes at the Museum is one of those books. Read morePublished on April 28 2003 by M. M. MacTier
I bought this book about 3 ½ years ago, then let it sit on my bookshelf collecting dust. This year I have made an attempt to read as many "old" books as possible and... Read morePublished on Dec 30 2002 by Dianna Setterfield