Sunday, January 8, 2012

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

When we were children, you could punish my brother by not letting him watch television, for me it would be taking away my books. When my son was young he once commented “my mum always has her nose in a book”. And I do.

Perhaps it is genetic. 

A few years ago, I reconnected with my cousin. We hadn’t seen each other in many years. After exchanging a few e-mails, I invited her to come to dinner. She arrived with a big bag of books. 

What I didn’t know, was that my cousin has been for many years the buyer for Black Bond Books, an independant Canadian bookseller. What she didn’t know, is that for many years I had lived close to one of the stores and had almost exclusively purchased my books from, what I had always thought of as, their impeccable selection.

Since then she has shared many wonderful books with me. Here is one I devoured recently, “Behind the Scenes at the Museum” the debut novel of Kate Atkinson. It is the story of Ruby Lennox, written in the first person, chronicling her life from conception, beginning with the words “I exist!”, and those of four generations of her family, in twentieth century England. 

A brilliant piece of work, it deservedly won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year and the 1996 Boeke Prize. It also won my heart. 

Curl up on a winter day, brew a pot of tea (a slice of fruitcake wouldn't be out of place either), and settle in with Ruby and her family. 

All good things, k

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