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Behind The Scenes At The Museum [Mass Market Paperback]

Kate Atkinson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description


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.

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552996181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552996181
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her four bestselling novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie became the BBC television series Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs. Her latest novel Life After Life was shortlisted for the Women's (formerly Orange) Prize, the South Bank Sky Arts Literature Award, and won the 2014 Costa Novel Award. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours List, and was voted Waterstones UK Author of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards.

Photography © Martin Hunter

Product Description


"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 Out)

Book Description

Kate Atkinson's brilliant first novel, which won the Whitbread Prize against competition from Salman Rushdie and Roy Hattersley.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rubies and Pearls 17 Mar 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Behind the Scenes at the Museum was Yorkshire mother of two, Kate Atkinson's first novel and this wonderful book it is definitely one to be celebrated.
Kate Atkinson was born in York and she chose the old walled City as the location for the tale of teenage Ruby Lennox and her family. The book starts from the moment of Ruby's conception in 1951, a moment grudgingly obliged by her mother, Bunty. Ruby starts the tale as a growing foetus, a baby inside her mother's womb. Boy, it sure did start to get uncomfortable in there after nine months, there sure wasn't a lot of room. Ruby was pushed into the world while her father George was in the Dog and Hare in Doncaster telling a women wearing a D-cup that he wasn't married.
Ruby tells the story of her family exploring complex family relationships, births, weddings, divorce, death, secrets and lies. She spends her childhood trying to placate her mother and playing with elder sister's Gillian and Patrica, under the shadow of the Minister, as they trundle along the old pebble-stone streets and in and out of the pet shop, the family business.
When she is just 5 Ruby is whisked away to stay with her Auntie Babs. She has no idea why, although she's sure that it's not a holiday. She has nightmares and begins to sleepwalk. When she returns no explanation is offered and her mother seems even more unhappy….
Atkinson divides Behind the Scenes at the Museum into Chapters and Footnotes: the Chapters focus on Ruby and her direct family life with her mother and father and her sisters.
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88 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Gem! 15 May 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I picked this book up as part of a 3 for 2 offer in a bookshop when I had already chosen my first two and was in a rush - I didn't even read the blurb on the back, I just vaguely remembered someone telling me how good it was.

What an absolute treat then to find that this ended up being the best of the lot - infact I can honestly say that I haven't enjoyed a book so much in a long time (and I read alot). From the very first paragraph I knew I was going to enjoy Behind the Scenes at the Museum; this book made me laugh and cry. The characters were all so real that I was desperate to know more about them, and I just love the way that the book jumps from present day to another time in the past of this strange but wonderfully fascinating family.

The story starts with the conception of Ruby Lennox in a drunken fumble with her parents in their House Above the Shop in York. Ruby narrates even before her birth and sets the scene with her family - a very disfunctional one at that. The second chapter then goes back in time to Ruby's Great-Grandmother, Alice and her 5 children and from here on in we flit back and forth between Ruby's life and those of her ancestors. All the characters in this book are so 3 dimensional it made me greedy to find out more about them and I found myself thinking about them even when I wasn't reading at the time.

I'm so glad I picked this book up and I am now desperate to read Kate Atkinson's other books. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book and can't recommend it highly enough.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful book! 15 Oct 2003
What a wonderful book! Kate Atkinson has such a talent for bringing her characters to life - you feel you know them so well, you feel they MUST have existed. It's a book that can read over and over again and gain so much enjoyment from it (believe me, I've read it six times). Parts of it made me laugh out loud and others literally made me cry - some aspects are heartbreakingly poigniant. I'm a great reader, and without doubt this is the best book I've ever read. Ruby's tale will stay with you for a long, long time. A book to be savoured - having read it once, you can re-read chapters individually - it just gets better and better. All of you who havn't read it yet - what a treat you have in store! Kate Atkinson - what a wonderful talent!
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the gems in recent years 4 May 2005
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book has to be one of my favourite books of recent years. It was just such a pleasure to read from beginning to end, that like most good books you just don't want it to end.
The characters were beautifully written, the plot even better, and there was such genuine wit and humour that it was very easy to laugh and cry at the same time.
The plot centres around the life of Ruby. Right from her conception we follow her in her life with her very disfunctional family.
If there's one book you're going to buy today then make it this one. You won't regeret it, and if for some reason you don't buy it today then make sure you do at some point, otherwise you'll be missing out something quite special.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply outstanding - WORTH EVERY MINUTE 30 Nov 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Behind The Scenes At The Museum" has to be the best book I have read in the last 10 years. As a young child I greatly enjoyed books but could not find a book which inspired me in the same way. I was ready to give up on books, and so I was thrilled when a teacher recommended it to me.
Kate Atkinson's opening to the book, "I exist!" tempted me to read on... and I'm so glad I did. The main character, Ruby explores relationships and thought processes of people in her family, exposing her family history. She takes on a super-intelligence as she talks the reader through her conception, childhood and later consequences in life. Her perception of her mother, "Bunty" as an overworked, neglected housewife is a great focus, providing some very funny moments.
The language is witty and charming, forming an instant affinity and friendly nature with the reader.
The narrative form of this book makes an easy and very pleasant read, and Atkinson's intervening comic remarks and observations made me laugh at loud! I would definitely recommend this book to a friend who enjoys an outstanding read, and it is well worth the time and money spared to read it.
Tina Gordon
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Such a great story! Very unusual style with foot notes taking you back in tiem. Inventive, interesting, gripping even. A jolly good read!
Published 9 days ago by MRS H A JACKSON
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
One of the loveliest books I've read in a long while,the characters were all wonderful especially Ruby.I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to anyone.
Published 24 days ago by cashers
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
An absorbing exploration of a family history.
Atkinson inter-weaves a chronological account of her central character Ruby, with those of her great grandmother, grandmother and... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Jean Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars A reet good read!
What a delightful book. Kate Atkinson has a wonderful way with words and the way she constructs her books. I will deffinately be reading more of her work
Published 29 days ago by A Yorkshire reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it before, loved it still
This was the first book of Kate Atkinson's I read many years ago. I enjoyed reading if then because I was born at the same time as Ruby, I live near York - it was a delight to read... Read more
Published 1 month ago by DeniH
5.0 out of 5 stars Fiction
One of the best books that I have read recently. Well written and very sympathetic with a twist in the tale.
Published 1 month ago by J. A. Milns
3.0 out of 5 stars Not me
I really didn't like the beginning of the book spoken by the unborn baby so it rather put me off the whole thing. Read more
Published 1 month ago by jane grace
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
This was our book club reading, all readers were disappointed. Kate Atkinson has such a great rep and others in the club have read and enjoyed other books of hers, however on... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joy Wheeler
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't get conceived by Kate Atkinson
Don’t get conceived by Kate Atkinson…
(A poem for Mother’s Day by Leseratte

Don’t get conceived by Kate Atkinson…
You’ll only regret it, I think. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Leseratte
5.0 out of 5 stars one her best
Very good story - kept my interest from start to finish- kate atkinson is always a good read but this everything and more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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