Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson
Behind the Scenes at the Museum

I haven’t read many of Atkinson’s books as I do find them quite confusing, often jumping from one person to another or from one time to another. However, I know her books are very highly thought of and popular, so I always feel the fault is probably mine and I’m just missing something, and I do therefore keep trying her books and they always do sound interesting and unusual.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson available on Amazon
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This book was quite humorous, and I particularly liked Ruby’s tales of being in her mother’s womb and the ability to share her mother’s thoughts and daydreams, and her gentle sarcasm about the family.  And the trip to Scotland was very funny with all the wrong turns and stops for the toilet and for sickness, then to set off only to stop yet again a short time later, as well as their disastrous days out from the cottage in Scotland with the terrible weather and the lack of entertainment at the cottage.

I also found the story quite depressing in places too though, as this was clearly a family disintegrating, and Bunty seemed to have mental health problems, and they all seemed to be in need of help and yet not helping each other, in fact more like destroying each other.  Ruby’s start in life seemed a bit harsh too, being left in a cot in a maternity ward rather than bonding with her mother, but I presume this was how things were at that time. Her mother also seemed quite dissatisfied with her life and seemed often put-upon, and I felt quite sorry for her.  

There were interesting snapshots of other members of the family, but, again, I’m back to my frequent feelings of confusion with her books, as, though these snapshots were interesting, I got confused jumping from one person to another and trying to remember who was related to who. I also regularly got confused with the footnotes, as they were about people from an earlier time but they didn’t seem to be in order or deal with one generation in turn, and this, to me, made it quite disjointed and hard work to read. Oh dear, yet another thing that distracted and affected my enjoyment of the book was the way in which Ruby told the story of her life, first as an unborn child, then a newborn, then aged two, then aged five, and yet she related these with the understanding, and often sarcasm, of an adult but the descriptions and thoughts seemed to be how Ruby experienced them at those particular ages, so although her thoughts and actions as a young child were enjoyable to read, at the same time they seemed odd as they were with an adult’s understanding and comprehension.  

When I finished the book, I felt like I wanted to go back and re-read all the chapters relating to a particular person so that I could get their life straight in my mind, and there also seemed to be subtle clues hinting at people turning up again in later life (eg, a war baby fathered by a Lennox from a previous generation becoming the nurse that cares for Ruby’s mum), so I’d like to go back and notice these references properly.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson available on Amazon
 Kindle  Hardback
 Paperback  Audiobook

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