Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

About the book

Ruby Lennox was conceived grudgingly by Bunty and born while her father, George, was in the Dog and Hare in Doncaster telling a woman in an emerald dress and a D-cup that he wasn’t married. Bunty had never wanted to marry George, but here she was, stuck in a flat above the pet shop in an ancient street beneath York Minster, with sensible and sardonic Patrica aged five, greedy cross-patch Gillian who refused to be ignored, and Ruby…Ruby tells the story of The Family, from the day at the end of the nineteenth century when a travelling French photographer catches frail beautiful Alice and her children, like flowers in amber, to the startling, witty, and memorable events of Ruby’s own life.

Reviewed by Basingstoke Thursday Afternoon Group:

One of the best yet! It is hard to believe it is a first novel. It is an intricate weaving of the story of Ruby, born in the ‘50s and the stories of three previous generations.

Star rating: ****

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9 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson”

  1. Review by Museum Book Group:
    The whole group enjoyed this read. We especially liked the format, the style and the very rounded characters. Apart from it being an excellent story, it was a very readable slice of social history.
    Star rating: ***


  2. Review by Boater’s Book Club:
    Most found it difficult to get into partly due to the style. It was considered depressing but also humorous. The descriptions were good especially those of the generations and the various characters – in particular Bunty, Gillian and Ruby. Everyone saw parallels to their own life.
    Star rating: ***


  3. Review by Southampton U3A Literature and Social History reading group:
    We thought this was a remarkable first novel. A family history unfolding and at the end the explanation for the mystery of (1) what happened to Great Gran Alice and (2) Ruby’s twin, Pearl.
    Good social history throughout written from the unusual view point of a child from the moment of conception. Moving and horrific at times.
    Star rating: ***


  4. Review by Hawkley Book Group:
    A quirky convoluted layered story that was enjoyed by the group. Extremely graphically written and evoked some personal memories. Very engaging.
    Star rating: ****


  5. Review by Fordingbridge U3A Group 1:
    Brilliant and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Footnotes could be irritating and a family tree in the front would be great.
    Star rating: ****


  6. Review by Goodworth Clatford WI reading group:
    Well written. A fascinating beginning. Excellent characterisation. Good language. Family saga. Could be enjoyed a second time. Very funny.
    Star rating: ****


  7. Review by Lymington WI reading group:
    Our members did not enjoy this book, they found the format confusing, with the footnotes and unnecessary though the prose in places was good. There was a lack of love or sympathy in nearly all the families which didn’t ring true.
    Star rating: *


  8. Review by Sheet WI
    Enjoyable book with good descriptions of experiences to which the reader can relate. Good humour.


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