Behind the Scenes at the Museum
by Kate Atkinson
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.
It’s not until reviewing this book that I realise I listened to an abridged version. I’m pretty sure that could have influenced my feelings about this story, so please bear this in mind when reading my review!
I’ve only read one Kate Atkinson book before and that was “Transcription“, which I wasn’t very keen on. I’ve also got two more Atkinson books on my shelf but they’ve been there for a few years now and while I’m not exactly sure why, I don’t have any great desire to pick them up. I’m afraid to say that “Behind the Scenes at the Museum” wasn’t really my cup of tea either and I’m thinking that it may be time to donate those dusty books that are currently sitting on my shelf.
“Behind the Scenes at the Museum” focuses on Ruby Lennox, the youngest of the Lennox family, narrating her life from conception right through to adulthood. Could you narrate your life from conception? Would you want to go back quite that far? Probably not!
Ruby was born in 1952 and as well as telling her life story, this book also goes into depth about her multi-generational family history and my goodness, there certainly are a lot of family members to keep track of! I’m not sure if this is any different in the print book, but in the audiobook, I was quite confused by the different times, especially as most of this history isn’t chronological.
Elements of the story were entertaining and there were a few things that put a smile on my face, but in general I felt that the chapters seemed quite choppy, jumping all over the place so I couldn’t follow particularly well. I suppose as it was abridged, I probably wasn’t getting the full picture either.
In general I found that I just wasn’t interested in this story and I think that the overwhelming number of characters, places and times were responsible for that. I did, however, enjoy the voice of the narrator and kept listening just for that.
Overall rating: “Behind the Scenes at the Museum” tells the historical story of one woman and her family. I couldn’t connect with this story and struggled to keep up with the huge plethora of characters. I’m afraid this was a 1 star read for me.
See my other reviews of books by Kate Atkinson here: