Friday, November 28, 2008

Book Review: Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Kate Atkinson
Picador, 1995/1996
333 Pages

by Eric Green

"In the end, it is my belief, words are the only things that can construct a world that makes sense."

Those are the words of Ruby Lennox the main character in this award-winning novel by Scottish writer, Kate Atkinson. I recently reviewed Atkinson's book, "Case Histories," understanding that she was moving from a pure novel form to a novel/mystery form. What I didn't know or understand, that her first novel, "Behind the Scenes at the Museum," was probably the perfect NOVEL.

By perfect I don't mean a novel that you can sit back and read without being taken on a journey within the two to three generations of quite complicated families that carry amazing life's experiences.

It is hard to review this book by reporting any one of the families ancestries because there are so many and so many filled with an amazing number of life's events. Only a writer with the skill, humor and humanity could not just get away with these highly dramatic epoch stories, but also, leave you feeling very good about yourself and the character's lives.

It is no wonder; Atkinson won the Whitbread Book of the Year award for this novel.

The novel gives you glimpses into both World Wars as well as the British Empire and its Commonwealth nations. You aren't give the insights and tragedies of WWI that you get in books by Charles Todd or Sebastian Faulks. But, this book is the sum total of many family epochs, nontheless.

But, it is Ruby Lennox who keeps you in the book as Atkinson throws family after family at you with calamities, disasters and a few successes.

If you haven't already read this book, clearly it took me more 10 years to discover Atkinson, read it now.

With Atkinson moving into the novel/mystery world with "Case Histories" her followers have a lot of enjoyable and exciting reading to look forward to.