Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

3.93 (23,903 ratings by Goodreads)
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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 more

Product details

  • Paperback | 512 pages
  • 124.46 x 195.58 x 25.4mm | 249.47g
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Black Swan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New Jacket
  • 0552996181
  • 9780552996181
  • 12,501

Review quote

"Delivers its jokes and its tragedies as efficiently as Dickens...outrageously funny on almost every page...will dazzle readers for years to come." -- Hilary Mantel London Review of Books "'A debut novel of astonishing confidence and skill...Acutely observant, overflowing with good jokes, it is the work of an author who loves her characters and sets them playing with gleeful energy'" Spectator "'An astounding book...without doubt one of the finest novels I have read for years'" The Times "'Little short of a masterpiece...Fizzing with wit and energy, Kate Atkinson's hilarious novel made me laugh and cry'" Daily Mail "'A blinding debut from a Yorkshire mother-of-two who could be Alan Bennett's baby sister...straight-up simplicity veils the depth, poignancy and poetry of her story'" Time Outshow more

About Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been a critically acclaimed international author ever since. Her bestselling novels featuring the former police detective Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog, have been adapted into a successful BBC TV series starring Jason Isaacs. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours more

Review Text

Spanning generations and both world wars, this British debut leaves no stone unturned in recounting the humorously turbulent family history of Ruby Lennox. Some novels grab the reader and hold on in a relentless pull to the finish. Others slowly reveal their secrets, unveiling quiet charms. Atkinson, winner of the lan St. James Award for her short stories, confidently creates a narrative and characters that fall into the latter category - a quirky assortment of angelic RAF gunmen and lecherous village butchers. With its unique beginning - "I exist!" cries Ruby, a minute-old fetus - the journey of Ruby's subsequent development, birth, and life up to middle age unfold amid alternating chapters narrating the tragicomic chronicle of her Yorkshire ancestors. From her great-grandmother Alice, who may or may not have died shortly after the itinerant photographer came round; to her grandmother Nell, who lost one fiance after another to the war to end all wars, finally settling for what was left; to her own mother, the formidable and hopelessly disenchanted Bunty, Ruby not only has the phantoms of the past to contend with but also her less than perfect immediate family. Life "above the shop" (pet shop, then medical supply mart after a fire consumes the pets) is an unending ordeal what with Bunty's permanent frown and father George's frequent indiscretions, not to mention the two other Lennox girls and the deadly secret they all keep from Ruby. With a natural storyteller's flair, Atkinson tumbles forth an array of anecdotes, revealed secrets, and eccentric snippets of love and death that finally build into the splendid chronicle, ghosts and all, of Ruby's life. With a sly, biting humor and honest warmth, a thoroughly enjoyable first novel with the promise of good things to come. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

23,903 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 32% (7,555)
4 40% (9,529)
3 21% (5,094)
2 5% (1,265)
1 2% (460)
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