Behind the Scenes at the Museum: A Novel

Behind the Scenes at the Museum: A Novel

4.2 25
by Kate Atkinson
     
 

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National Bestseller

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year

Kate Atkinson's dazzling debut novel is a deeply moving story of family heartbreak and happiness.

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

Overview

National Bestseller

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year

Kate Atkinson's dazzling debut novel is a deeply moving story of family heartbreak and happiness.

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.

Editorial Reviews

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466842663
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/02/2013
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
35,847
File size:
667 KB

Meet the Author

Kate Atkinson is the author of a short-story collection, Not the End of the World, and five critically acclaimed novels including Case Histories and One Good Turn. She lives in Edinburgh, UK.
Kate Atkinson is the author of a short-story collection, Not the End of the World, and critically acclaimed novels including Human Croquet, Case Histories and One Good Turn. She lives in Edinburgh, UK.

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Behind the Scenes at the Museum 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
AngieJG More than 1 year ago
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.
coffee_luvr More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
COULDN'T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. WHAT A NOVEL WAY TO TELL A STORY
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It started far too slow and I had trouble keeping the people straight across the different time periods.
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Hihihihihihihihihihi "I SAY REALY PERCKER TO MEET OU ALL"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
T ethics Who Is Your Master nm i need tgtbd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Hmph..."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Iam doing good why couldnt u sleep last night do u have school today