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Behind the Scenes at the Museum: A real review

Updated on June 27, 2015

Behind the Scenes at the Museum. A favourite novel

Before this book was available in America, my sister sent it to me from the UK. 'Jackie' she said (my name isn't really BritFlorida, believe it or not) in the attached letter, ' this book is about us'. It isn't really, of course, but it's uncannily familiar. It may be to you too.

Don't be misled by weird reviews

For one thing, if you want to properly enjoy this book, beware of the Amazon reviews, many of which are spoilers. You need to know nothing about this book if you're going to enjoy it as much as I do.

Even the official notes are wrong

Publishers' Weekly wrote the Amazon description but the dates mentioned are incorrect, it describes a 'dysfunctional family' (families were like that in those days) who lead a 'mundane life' (hardly) and that they are 'troubled' (no, that's the point, they are normal for that period in time). Read this with no preconceptions,

Of course, there are great reviews too

In fact, out of five stars, this book received 4.2 - an excellent figure, especially when you consider that some people just didn't 'get' the magical and wonderful aspects of this book.

And the story?

Unlike those who like to give spoilers, I don't want to give the game away at all about this book.

That truly would spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that our narrator, Ruby Lennox, was born in the nineteen-fifties in the City of York. (Yes, the place that has the famous York minster and museum).

Her parents, a Yorkshire pet shop owner and his wife Bunty, already have two other daughters.

As Ruby describes her life as she grows to adulthood, the story is also interspersed by stories of her bizarre and wonderful family in recent history,

We're taken back in time to the first and second world wars and to the early days of the family in a tiny hamlet in the Yorkshire Moors. The stories of the family which are woven in, show how history can repeat itself...

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By the same author

I recommend both these books, also written by Kate Atkinson. They show the author's versatility.

Human Croquet: A Novel
Human Croquet: A Novel

When I started to read this, I thought that there was no way that it could be as good as Behind the Scenes. I finished and decided I'd been right. But then I read it again ...I couldn't quite identify with the characters as much but there's just as much (black) humor.

Case Histories: A Novel
Case Histories: A Novel

This is the third novel I read by the author.

Again, this is different to the other two but has the classic twists and turns that have become one of Kate Atkinson's trademarks along with her wonderful characters.

Like the other books, this is available as a paperback or for your Kindle.


Meet the author

See video: Watch an interview with Kate Atkinson.

Whatever you do, avoid reviews

On my own blog,I have ranted at length about the low standard of some Amazon book reviews which are notorious for largely being erroneous. (What I actually said is that most seem to be written by twelve year olds).

As believe I mentioned above, the main reason to avoid these reviews is that some reviewers seem to insist on giving spoilers. I promise you,this would seriously spoil your enjoyment of this book.

I also wouldn't want you to get the wrong idea. Several youngsters who have reviewed this book at Amazon refer to Ruby's family as 'dysfunctional'. That is absolutely not the case.

The reason that anyone of my age who reads this book is captivated by it is because it is so accurate.This is how families lived in those days. It's the days when dogs were kept in kennels in the yard - the day of 'pet parents'and pampered pooches were well into the future.

These were the days when yes, women did do the laundry on Mondays, by hand;the days when most butchers attracted their female clients by being just a little lecherous.

It's a time before kids had televisions in their rooms and when they were expected to be a working part of the family where chores were concerned. In those days,there were no expectations of happy family life as depicted on adverts.

But it was also the days of caring for the extended family, sticking together through thick and thin and not just knowing your neighbours' names but being their friends too.

© 2013 Jackie Jackson


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    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Adenturetravels - it's not that long ago to me :) I was born just a couple of years after Ruby in the book. There are so many similarities. I was born too late for the coronation though! It would be awful to write a spoiler for this book. People shouldn't look at Amazon reviews as they often give the game away. I recommend this book SO much.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      Yes I know women who lived like this - it seems like a long time ago but it's not really -it's very recent history. A great review - thanks for not spoiling!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Adventuretravels: I think you'll really enjoy it.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      I'd like to read this. Thanks for telling me about it

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @christine-bubeck-5: Hi Christine, it really is a great book, isn't it? I think it's ideal for my age group too because I was born just a few years after Ruby. I identify!

    • profile image

      christine-bubeck-5 4 years ago

      I think that lot of us from Yorkshire can relate to this book. I trad it a couple of years ago and loved it.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @jennabeezer: I really think you will:)

    • profile image

      jennabeezer 4 years ago

      I'm excited to get started on this one after having read the sneak-peeks you included. It looks like a story I would really enjoy!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @DawnRae64: Let me know if you guess the plot of this one :) I think she might get you again!

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 4 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I am sooo glad to read this review (excellent lens!). I read Case Histories by K.A and LOVED it. I remember that there was some twist in the plot while I was at the beach..I literally jumped up saying "oh no she didn't!" (meaning she fooled me. I often guess the plots. But she got me). The next K.A book I tried to read just didn't get me the same way. I really didn't think i'd try her again. Thanks for this review. this is going on my "to read" list.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I LOVE Kate Atkinson. I'm reading Started Early, Took My Dog right now. Great review. I agree about not giving anything away. ALL of her books are marvelous!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny: Thank you! This really is a wonderful book - a great mixture of comedy, tragedy and insights.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

      A BIG thank you for introducing me to a new author. I love period pieces, and this looks like it will be entertaining as well as fascinating. Congratulations on your feature in this weeks Imminent Reel. Well deserved.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @DreyaB: Glad to meet another 'Behind the Scenes' fan! The twist and turns in this book are quire amazing.

    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 4 years ago from France

      One of my favourites too. Must get round to reading it again. I especially liked it being set in York, my hometown. It was great to picture things she wrote about, but isn't vital of course to the story. Loved the book and your review! :0)