Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sunday Bookworm

Behind The Scenes
At The Museum
Kate Atkinson

This is my third Sunday Bookworm post, bringing you reviews of books I have recently enjoyed.  Following the recent BBC adaptations of Case Histories by this same author, I thought I would review one of Kate Atkinson's other books - letting you know that she is more than just a detective novelist, albeit a talented one.

Behind The Scenes At The Museum is the story of Ruby Lennox and her family. Not your usual family tale, but a heady mix of historical saga and present day grit. We learn about Ruby's life from childhood to adulthood, punctuated with landmark events and peppered with forgotten memories. Running alongside Ruby's tale is that of her ancestor Alice, and the story hops satisfyingly between the past and the present, pulling you into their lives, their stories, their trials and their tribulations.

This was Kate Atkinson's first published novel, and marked her out as a skilled writer and storyteller. This is not a detective story - although I would highly recommend the Jackson Brodie books as portrayed by the BBC, in particular When Will There Be Good News, which although well represented deserves a fuller reading - nor is it an historical novel. Instead it is a rattling good yarn, with wonderfully drawn characters to whom we can all relate. From the feckless father, to the frustrated mother and the bewildered child, as the story unfolds and the history is revealed they sit comfortably in context with their pasts - proving that we are not just who we are now, but the sum of the lives we have lived, and those who have lived before us.

This is a book that can be enjoyed on so many levels - simply written, and yet strangely deep - there is humour in the main players and the anecdotes of their lives, as well as sadness and situations that we all identify with. There is also mystery and coincidence, and the all different facets of this book make it sparkle like a diamond - it is simply a joy to read.

Please don't expect a plot as such, this is a story that tells a tale and recounts a history. The characters are not special, they are not stars in the making, they are real people - they could be me or you, or our mothers and fathers. There is a stark realism to the book, which only a talented writer could take from the everyday and turn into such a good read. It goes to show that we all have a story, and a history.

I urge you to read this book if what you have read about here appeals to you - you will definitely enjoy it.

You can find out more about the book, the author and her other published works at:

Next month's book will be something a little different - from the previous three books I have written about, and for me as a reader, but I assure you it is another cracking good read! Next month I will be reviewing

The Snowman
Jo Nesbo

I would love if it if other readers would join me for my Sunday Bookworm, so please leave any comments you wish about any of the books I have reviewed so far - or if you have already read next month's book, and would like your comments included in my review, please feel free to email me at
and let me have your thoughts!

My next Sunday Bookworm blog is scheduled to be posted on Sunday 18th September 2011.

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