Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Atkinson, Kate. Behind the Scenes at the Museum. London: Black Swan, 1996.

November is writing month and to celebrate I decided to read something from Nancy Pearl’s chapter called “First Novels” (Book Lust p 88)…in two days!
Behind the Scenes at the Museum was honored as a Whitbread Book of the Year and received such words of praise as remarkable, impressive, entertaining, quirky, colorful, humorous, ambitious, unusual, lively, provacative, promising, witty, enchanting, sassy, astounding…I could go on (and on). With reviews using words like those how could I not expect to love it, want to love it?

From the very beginning Behind the Scenes draws the reader in. Told from the point of view of young Ruby Lennox…(before she is even born) there is humor and sarcasm. Her voice reminds me of the wise-alec baby on Family Guy (sorry, the name escapes me). Ruby is omnipresent, giving the reader insight on every thought, feeling, dream, nightmare her family has.
The alternate chapters (told in third person) give the backstory of Ruby’s mother’s life during the second Great War. The writing is not as humorous, nor as witty as when Ruby gets to speak. Over all the reading is a rollercoaster of ups and downs, twisting you through life’s crazy moments.
Favorite lines:
“She walks out, saying nothing, but inside, a silent Scarlett rages…” (p 22).
“…but how can time be reversible when it gallops forward, clippity-clop and nobody ever comes back. Do they?” (p 210).

All and all I wasn’t as wowed as I thought I would be. Maybe it’s because Ruby’s story isn’t the main focus after all. While she tells the story it’s more about her mother, Bunty, and the generations of women before her. It’s interesting to note there is always a war going on in some capacity and Ruby seems to always be walking in on her father having sex with someone other than his wife!

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “First Novels” (p 88). But, I said that already.



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