Behind the Scenes at the Museum is told through the eyes of Ruby, and follows her and her family through important events in her life starting at her conception, through two world wars and many many family tragedies. It also flashes back to the lives of her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, providing a pretty conclusive family history. Essentially, it’s a book about people, and what makes and breaks a family.
This book is heartbreaking, and yet has an incredible sense of humour. The turn of phrase is often hilarious, and young Ruby’s observations of the world around her are of the “it’s funny ’cause it’s true” sort. I snorted more than once and read passages aloud to Jon. I can’t give you any examples, because that would be spoilers. And we know how Doctor Song feels about those. There is also a TWIST, though I did see that one coming. I watched too many episodes of Murder She Wrote when I was a kid. I can’t help it.
I only recently encountered Kate Atkinson’s work, and am really enjoying it*. Behind the Scenes at the Museum was her first book. I’m really looking forward to reading her new one Life After Life. I often stand in Exclusive Books stroking it, but I can’t decide if I want to buy it or Neil Gaiman’s new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane first. That said I also want to buy JK Rowling’s secret book, and another called Confessions of a Sociopath which also looks amazing. Why are books so expensive, and so beautiful?
*As an aside, I found that people usually say “I’m reading her”, as in “I recently encountered Kate Atkinson’s work and I’m really enjoying reading her”. Is this quite a literary or academic thing to say? I don’t like it. I say “it” because it is an it. It is a book. A book is a thing. It’s not actually even a book, it’s a story. It’s just in the form of a book. But is the story her? Or hers? I’m not sure. One thing I encountered while doing SSDA with my work friends, was that as I read each of their stories, I kept trying to find the bits of them in it. But then I think of my own story, and I don’t want them to try and find bits of me in it. When I re-read it it doesn’t even seem like a thing I wrote. Does anyone else feel like that? Maybe I’ve had too much sugar.**
**By the way, this Creamery icecream I’m eating is the bomb. I ordered it from Eat Out The Box, at like, quarter to ten, and they didn’t judge me, and they brought it straight to my door. That’s service.