BN.com Gift Guide

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

( 24 )

Overview

A deeply moving family story of happiness and heartbreak, Behind the Scenes at the Museum is bestselling author Kate Atkinson's award-winning literary debut.  

National Bestseller

 

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year

 

Ruby Lennox begins narrating her life at the moment of conception, and from there takes us on a whirlwind tour of the twentieth century as seen through the ...

See more details below
Paperback (REV)
$13.44
BN.com price
(Save 16%)$16.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (206) from $1.99   
  • New (13) from $6.30   
  • Used (193) from $1.99   
Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

A deeply moving family story of happiness and heartbreak, Behind the Scenes at the Museum is bestselling author Kate Atkinson's award-winning literary debut.  

National Bestseller

 

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year

 

Ruby Lennox begins narrating her life at the moment of conception, and from there takes us on a whirlwind tour of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of an English girl determined to learn about her family and its secrets.  Kate Atkinson’s first novel is “a multigenerational tale of a spectacularly dysfunctional Yorkshire family and one of the funniest works of fiction to come out of Britain in years” (The New York Times Book Review).

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Remarkable . . . A multigenerational tale of a spectacularly dysfunctional Yorkshire family and one of the funniest works of fiction to come out of Britain in years."—Ben Mcintryre, The New York Times Book Review

 

"Scoundrels, malcontents, misfits, and cheats. Every family has them, though seldom are they handled with the winsome wit and wisecrackery that make Behind the Scenes at the Museum such a smart and funny read."—The Washington Times

 

"Startlingly original . . . A poignant and beautifully wrought portrait of a young girl's growth."—Johanna Stoberock, The Seattle Times

"Really comic, really tragic, bracingly unsentimental . . . What a triumph! What joy!"—The Boston Sunday Globe

"An effervescent, affecting delight."—Rebecca Radner, The San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

Fiction Digest
From the moment Ruby Lennox announces her own conception with the shout, "I exist!"—an event she attributes to the five pints of bitter her father drank—it is clear she won't leave anything out of the account of her Yorkshire family. She describes her great-grandmother's affair with a French photographer, her mother's dashed dreams of Hollywood glamor and her sister's unsuccessful attempt to upstage the queen of England. A first novel.
Synopsis copyright Fiction Digest
Megan Harlan

In her offbeat, playful, and often poignant first novel, the young British writer Kate Atkinson offers us the voice of a jubilant, irreverent narrator, Ruby Lennox, who at once celebrates and mercilessly skewers her middle-class English family. From the moment of her conception in York in 1951 (the novel is smartly launched with the exclamation, "I exist!"), Ruby casts a frank and omniscient eye on her disjointed clan, viewing with growing alarm her distant, philandering father George, her profoundly irritable mother Bunty, and her two emotionally overwhelmed sisters. Life for the Lennox clan revolves around the family petshop, the occasional tragedy (such as when the petshop burns down), and visits with a bevy of eccentric relatives. Atkinson, who has won the UK's prestigious Ian St. James Award for her short stories, seamlessly alternates this normal, workaday world with darker family secrets -- including an odd "feeling of something long forgotten" that will haunt Ruby throughout her life.

Through a series of lengthy "footnotes" that follow each chapter, Atkinson also recounts tales drawn from over a century of the family's history -- tracing the passage of oddities and flawed traits from one generation to the next. A few of these work as colorful snapshots, as when Ruby's great-grandmother runs away with a French magician, or when we learn that the Second World War, for Bunty, was not so much a matter of getting a husband as acquiring a personality. But the majority of the tales (such as the one in which her grandmother buys new boots after the Boer War), do little to illuminate the more compelling modern-day narrative. Worse still, they lack Ruby's clever voice. In the end, Atkinson is so successful in creating her wry, witty central character that any other perspective seems like a digression we don't want to follow. -- Salon

Hilary Mantel
"Delivers its jokes and tradgedies as efficiently as Dickens once delivered his, though Atkinson has a gameplan more sophisticated than Dickens....will dazzle readers for years to come." - The Long Review of Books
Ben MacIntyre
"Remarkable...full of the grimness, grit, and grandeur of Yorkshire life...one of the funnies books to come out of Britain in years." -- The New York Times Book Review
Georgia Jones-Davis
"Stunning...out Copperfield's David Copperfield's....The power has such storytelling, a treasure chest bursting with the painful, pitiful, sad, always fascinating details of the most ordinary of lives." -- The Los Angeles Times
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312150600
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 11/12/1999
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 91,102
  • Product dimensions: 5.45 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Atkinson is the author of Behind the Scenes at the Museum, winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year, Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Not the End of the World, Case Histories, One Good Turn, and Life after Life. She lives in Edinburgh, England.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. What do cupboards have to do with the story?

2. More than one reviewer compared Behind the Scenes at the Museum to Tristram Shandy and to the works of Marcel Proust and Charles Dickens. What might these novels have in common? How does Kate Atkinson update or expand upon the earlier books’ use of narration and history?

3. One of Atkinson’s innovations is her use of footnotes. Why do you think she adopted this non- fiction technique in a novel?

4. Although this novel is very much about a specific time and place, it has been embraced by audiences in twelve countries, in as many languages. What gives Behind the Scenes at the Museum such a universal appeal?

5. What is the meaning of the book’s title?

6. What other fictional narrators does Ruby Lennox bring to mind?

7. What does Behind the Scenes at the Museum say about women’s roles and opportunities in the family and in the world at large? What do the four generations of women in Ruby’s family have in common?

8. Behind the Scenes at the Museum generated controversy in England when a critic called it "anti-family." How would you defend the book against this charge? What other novels, now considered classics, might have had to face this sort of accusation?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(15)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2001

    The best book I've read in years!

    I read this book while I was studying abroad in England, and I was just blown away by how wonderful it was. I was laughing out loud from the first page on, and at times I was laughing and crying at the same time. Atkinson writes about the ordinary and the everyday, but with such skill that you get sucked right into Ruby's world and you don't leave until the last page. Trust me, I've read a lot of books, and this is one of the funniest, saddest, most well-written books I've ever read. You'll love it!

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2005

    Best Part of the Honeymoon

    I brought this book along on our honeymoon to Maui, and as great as the vacation was, this book was even better. I was actually depressed when it ended. A phenomenal writer, Kate Atkinson has a unique gift for character development and storytelling. I have been talking and thinking about this book since I read it in 2000, and have read everything else by the author since. This is what a novel should be.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2005

    I love it!

    I adore this book, the plot and characters become so real as you read it, it's impossible not to get pulled in. This is the 2nd Whitbread winner that I've read, and I was definatley not disappointed!!!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Unique Read

    I started this book because it was a selection through a book club. I read some of the reviews and I was excited to get started on the book, however I was disappointed. I usually don't have problems getting through a book but I really, really had to force myself to finish this one. I put it aside a couple of times to read other selections but decided I had to finish this one. I had a very hard time following the multiple characters that were introduced in the footnote sections where the author flashes back in time to fill in the reader on the history of the family. Although I have read many books that go back and forth in time periods, this one really left me unsure of who was who and how they were related to the main character. I found most of the footnote sections were distracting and didn't help me to understand the current characters any better. The story started to be a bit more interesting to me from chapter 8 (last third of the book) to the end. I ended up skimming the footnote sections in the second third of the book rather than try to figure out how the characters were related. The only foot note sections that helped me understand the story were the ones in the last part of the book. Although it was an interesting and unique way to tell the story about Ruby, I struggled to get through it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    Highly recommended -not the usual generic murder mystery

    Kate Atkinson's mysteries involve far more character development than any others I've read, not in the common form of character descriptions, but through an interior view of her characters' thoughts and personal interactions. In Behind the Scenes at the Museum I found myself drawn into her characters' life stories as much as into the mystery plot. And, as with her other books, I found myself satisfied by a mystery well-solved, but also touched by the sadness and beauty of life I had just experienced through the reading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 7, 2013

    I read the book from beginning to end. I enjoyed a different wri

    I read the book from beginning to end. I enjoyed a different writing style from this author. I tend to read very serious historical fiction, so I enjoyed the humor throughout the book (though it was dark humor) I had a difficult time keeping track of all the characters, as the story goes back and forth between generations. I felt I needed a family tree nearby to remind me of who is who. I was left feeling rather melancholy and empty at the end of the book. The novel centers around Ruby, but I feel I never got to know her as an adult. Those important years are skipped over. This is the second novel I have read by Kate Atkinson. I don't think I will read another.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2001

    Enjoyable!

    Over the summer I decided to read books by authors that combined humor with tragedy. I read so many books that are wonderful but depressive! Anyway, this book really fit the bill. In the beginning, Ruby describes her own birth. She begins to reveal her family history in an innocent sort of way. By the end of the book she is all grown up and an insightful young lady. The journey she takes you on is one that will leave an impression on you. This is perhaps one of my favorite books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2013

    Challenging but had to finish

    The author writes in great detail both the semi-exciting and humdrum. I had great expectations for this story from the beginning but it fell a little flat too often for me. There is too much sadness that makes the relatvely good parts of this story get lost. That said, I wanted to finish it and did.

    I didn't enjoy much of it, but kept reading...much like watching a car wreck.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2003

    I loved this story!

    I could not put the book down. I cared about Ruby and what happened to her. What a family! So true to life in many cases. Unusual for me to laugh out loud but I did.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2014

    Amber to fire shadow

    Iam doing good why couldnt u sleep last night do u have school today

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2014

    Amethyst

    Which man tell me now

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2014

    Cf

    "Hmph..."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2014

    Hu

    Hihihihihihihihihihi "I SAY REALY PERCKER TO MEET OU ALL"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2014

    Fire queen Shadow

    I wallk in i curl up in the ruble of my castle and my village. Babies are crying. Its all gloomy and no one wants to live here but the people are stuck in this village.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2014

    Piper

    T ethics Who Is Your Master nm i need tgtbd

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2014

    Reay

    Im sorry master

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2003

    excellent !!!!!!!

    COULDN'T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. WHAT A NOVEL WAY TO TELL A STORY

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)