"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

TITLE: Behind the Scenes at the Museum
AUTHOR: Kate Atkinson

Before she introduced readers to PI Jackson Brodie, Atkinson wrote this book, her first, and to say it's brilliant would be an understatement. I can understand why it won the Whitbread Book of the Year award. A novel that reads like a surreal memoir, the book is narrated by Ruby Lennox, who starts her tale at the moment of her conception. The family she's born into is dysfunctional at best, and Ruby relates her life and that, in alternating chapters, of key members of her family tree, filling in the family history in what she calls "footnotes." The passages covering relatives who fought in the World Wars, were especially well done.

But Ruby is, as many narrators are, unreliable, albeit unwittingly, and in her quest to make sense of her family, she finds herself.

Atkinson's prose is fluid and in turns humorous and moving, in a way that kept me reading (even if it took me a long time). The words sucked me in and I came to fully believe in these characters. They became real, especially Ruby. This is definitely going to make my list of all-time favorite books.