Behind the Scenes at the Museum MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

Review by A. B., Wenham, MA

   This book proved to be exactly what I needed in the midst ofoverwhelming schoolwork and a cold, gray winter. True, the novel'sprotagonist has a depressing childhood and young adulthood. Butdespite this, the book is lighthearted and funny. The unbelievabilityof it all is what makes it so special. Kate Atkinson's style in herfirst novel is so fresh and amusing, you will enjoy every moment. Sheneither glamorizes real life nor pities it: she simply tells it likeit is.

   The novel begins with the conception of a working-class English girl."I exist!" Ruby exults, narrating the story of her tumultuous life,periodically transporting us back in time to fill the reader in onthe equally tumultuous lives of her ancestors. By the end, one isfamiliar with the struggles and triumphs of four generations ofworking-class women. Although this back-and-forth action can beconfusing at times, it is essential that we understand Ruby's originsto enjoy learning about her present life.

   Ruby's childhood revolves around the Pet Shop, her family's solesource of income. Most of the story's events take place Above Shop,where the family resides. There we are introduced to Ruby'smelodramatic sisters, her bitter, overworked mother and her weak,disloyal father. At family functions we meet more relatives - auntsand uncles with their own little quirks and several odd cousins - whocome to feel they are our relations too. Kate Atkinson portrays theirfaults so accurately they are easily recognizable as people we areapt to encounter.

   By the novel's close, Ruby's poignant heartbreaks and happiness willbecome your own. There is no question the book will hold the reader'sinterest. In fact, its characters will reside in one's mind after thebook is shelved away, for it triumphantly depicts mankind's abilityto look at life's everyday foibles with a smirk.

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i love this !


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