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Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate…
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Behind the Scenes at the Museum (original 1995; edition 1996)

by Kate Atkinson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,466841,539 (3.96)284
Member:cbinstead
Title:Behind the Scenes at the Museum
Authors:Kate Atkinson
Info:Black Swan (1996), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fiction

Work details

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson (1995)

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    Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson (starfishian)
    starfishian: Atkinson has written books in a variety of genres, settings and topics. Human Croquet reminds me very much of Behind the Scenes; if you liked one, no doubt you will like the other.
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» See also 284 mentions

English (79)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (83)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
A highly original, tragicomic family story spanning a century of misadventure and misfortune. Ruby, the primary narrator, has a sharp eye and a sharper wit. She does not suffer fools gladly and her family is rife with them. I enjoyed this book tremendously, start to finish, and only felt, as others did, that it lost a bit of momentum near the end. Not a lot, just a bit. Looking forward to more from this author. ( )
  SonjaYoerg | Oct 1, 2014 |
God I love Kate Atkinson's writing. And her sense of humor. And her wry wit. And her sense of history. Oh let's face it, I love Kate Atkinson. And this polished novel was her debut novel?? Can that be right? Of course I read and loved [Life After Life] but that didn't prepare me for a debutnovel that exudes shades of Dickens and had me furiously turning pages well into the night.

The story is narrated by Ruby Lennox and who better to tell the story of her life as well as that of her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and sundry other relatives. Ruby’s family, much like yours, mine and everybody else’s, is littered with rogues, crooks, cheats and scoundrels. As Atkinson moves the narrative back and forth in time, across the twentieth century, she drops one tidbit after another that attest to her narrative wiliness. Ruby’s mother, Bunty, is such a rich, vibrant character (although not a contender for “Mother of the Year”) and Atkinson plays her for all she’s worth:

”I love the smell of paraffin heaters, so warm and dangerous. ‘Be careful,’ Bunty warns automatically. In another life Bunty was related to Joan of Arc, constantly alert to the possibilities of fire….Paraffin heaters are even more hazardous than stakes to riches, and they never occur in a sentence without a cautionary warning attached. None of us….could be within five feet of one of the Shop heaters without being in danger of conflagration. The coal fire in the living-room is treated similarly and kept guarded day and night (lit or unlit); matches are lethal, of course; the burners on the gas cooker are alive and trying to grab you as you pass by; cigarettes are struggling to drop and smolder----and as for spontaneous combustion! Well, it’s just waiting to happen.” Page 182

So that’s what this book is like: laugh out loud moments followed by a history lesson or two (the section about Ruby’s great uncles during WWI was some of the most poignant writing on that subject that I’ve ever read) with Atkinson setting a frantic pace throughout the narrative. Pure delight from beginning to end and very highly recommended. ( )
10 vote brenzi | May 2, 2014 |
It took me a long time to warm up to this story but I did eventually like it. A small quibble with the narration, which had pauses at places that didn't seem to be related to the content... ( )
  leslie.98 | Mar 23, 2014 |
After loving Life After Life, I decided to go back to Atkinson's backlist and read her debut novel.

With the story of Ruby Lennox, I immediately saw similarities to Ursula Todd and as a storyteller Atkinson has only improved. Of course, she had a pretty strong start with this one.

While there were a few things with this one that didn't seem to work, overall it's a wonderfully weaving story of several generations of Ruby's family -- Alice, her great grandmother, Nell, her grandmother, and Bunty, her mom -- and we see over and over how history manages to repeat itself despite all the different paths taken.

Spoiler: The one thing that threw me was that Ruby apparently had a twin, Pearl, but we don't know about it until MUCH LATER. Which doesn't make a lot of sense because Ruby starts narrating at the point of conception.... So that kind of distracted me from the story. I think the story could have survived without that piece, but it also didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the novel.
( )
  melissarochelle | Jan 9, 2014 |
The book begins with the conception of Ruby Lennox, narrated by...Ruby Lennox. Each chapter is current and tells of a period of time, but the chapters are interspersed with "footnotes," chapters with historical family stories. It all comes together in the end, and it's a good story, but it was very difficult to keep the characters in order. I love Atkinson's Jackson Brodie stories. This is her first novel, and she hadn't quite worn of the rough edges, but the promise is there! ( )
  tloeffler | Nov 23, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Atkinsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jameson, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peterson, MarieForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torndahl, LenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I exist!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312150601, Paperback)

"I exist!" exclaims Ruby Lennox upon her conception in 1951, setting the tone for this humorous and poignant first novel in which Ruby at once celebrates and mercilessly skewers her middle-class English family. Peppered with tales of flawed family traits passed on from previous generations, Ruby's narrative examines the lives in her disjointed clan, which revolve around the family pet shop. But beneath the antics of her philandering father, her intensely irritable mother, her overly emotional sisters, and a gaggle of eccentric relatives are darker secrets--including an odd "feeling of something long forgotten"--that will haunt Ruby for the rest of her life. Kate Atkinson earned a Whitbread Prize in 1995 for this fine first effort.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:41 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In her profoundly moving, uniquely comic debut, Kate Atkinson introduces readers to the mind and world of Ruby Lennox, born above a pet shop in York at the halfway point of the twentieth century, and determined to understand both the family that precedes her and the life that awaits her. Taking her own conception as her starting point, the irrepressible Ruby narrates a story of four generations of women, from her great-grandmother's affair with a French photographer, to her mother's unfulfilled dreams of Hollywood glamour, to her young sister's efforts to upstage the Queen on Coronation Day. Hurtling in and out of both World Wars, economic downfalls, the onset of the permissive '60s, and up to the present day, Ruby paints a rich and vivid portrait of family heartbreak and happiness.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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