Behind the Scenes at the Museum

by Kate Atkinson | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0552776009 Global Overview for this book
Registered by nice-cup-of-tea of Zürich, Zürich Switzerland on 9/22/2010
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by nice-cup-of-tea from Zürich, Zürich Switzerland on Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Really enjoyed this, cried buckets at the end

Review found on Amazon

Sparkling first novel of Kate Atkinson, 12 Jan 2010
By Lorraine Harding - See all my reviews

This review is from: Behind the Scenes at the Museum (Paperback)
This has been the second time I have read 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum'; I only read it a second time because my book group is discussing it. I think it is the best of the few Kate Atkinson novels I have read. The written style is lively and sparkling with excellent use of imagery. The book is often hilariously funny although it can also be poignant and sad. It is essentially a cross-generational study of a York-based family (located in the upper working to lower middle class, in so far as these terms mean anything), with the main emphasis on the women characters (although not exclusively). The main story proceeds in a linear fashion, but there are 'footnotes' that flash back to the past, not in chronological order. There are also several 'mysteries' buried in the plot; the reader can do their own detective work on trying to figure out what has actually happened, and all is revealed towards the end of the book. There is some excellent social historical research behind this book, with, inter alia, some detailed wartime scenes from both World Wars, and I wondered how the author was able to capture so graphically the 'male' worlds of the trenches and the RAF.

On the negative side, some of the minor characters seemed a little stereotyped, and the huge cast of relations became confusing - a family tree diagram would have helped, although this would also have blown some of the 'mysteries'. The long sagas of disastrous family holidays and weddings veered from farcically funny to rather tedious at times, I thought.

Overall verdict: this is an excellent light entertainment novel enhanced by sharp observation and impressive writing skill.

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