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Behind The Scenes At The Museum Mass Market Paperback – 1996

247 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Jacket edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552996181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552996181
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,110 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

Review

'A blinding debut from a Yorkshire mother-of-two…straight-up simplicity veils the depth, poignancy and poetry of her story' -- Time Out

'An astounding book…without doubt one of the finest novels I have read for years' -- The Times

'Enchanting. It hops with sprightly omniscience from past to future and back again' -- The Sunday Times

‘Little short of a masterpiece…Fizzing with wit and energy, Kate Atkinson’s hilarious novel made me laugh and cry’ -- Daily Mail

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

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Ms. N. C. Turnill on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cleversaz on 12 May 2015
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Such an easy read and kept me sane through a 5.5-hour flight. I love Kate Atkinson's writing style, she's excellent at creating page-turning novels. Here, she builds up such a vivid picture of Ruby, her extended family and ancestors that by the end, you almost feel as if you know them. I did have to pause on occasion to get it straight in my mind who was related to whom, but that was all part of the enjoyment. I like the way the book flits across time, showing that emotions and family bonds run deep across time and space. It makes you think of your own ancestors living at the time of the two world wars and see them in a more real light than just faded, austere photographs. It has such an air of reality about it, I think that's probably what makes it so enjoyable, the ability to relate to the lives of all the characters. Having loved Life After Life so very much, I wasn't disappointed by Behind The Scenes At The Museum - a completely different story as a follow-up read but so engrossing nonetheless. I plan to buy many more of her books.
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97 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Boof VINE VOICE on 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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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Delyth W Ross on 15 Oct. 2003
Format: Hardcover
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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