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Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

March 2014 Guest Editor Jojo Moyes on Behind the Scenes at the Museum.

I would, frankly, read Kate Atkinson's shopping list. This was the first book which really made me understand the importance of 'voice'. She's a writer who inspires as she's brave, and inventive, and you never know where her novels are going to go next, all too rare a trait, in my opinion.

The Lovereading view...

This is very special. Even with all she has written since and with her change of direction into crime mysteries this, her first novel, in my mind still stands out as her best. It is simply just the life of Ruby and her dysfunctional family. It’s warm, addictive, quite wonderful – and quite unlike anything else she has written.

A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher...

‘I have a vivid memory of the first time I read the first page of Kate Atkinson’s first novel. It was nearly 10 years after I’d left York and in a page I was back there, in the streets around the Minster – transported by the voice of an unborn child to a world that was familiar but warped. Never mind its unusual developmental stage, the voice was immediately distinct, a little mad, a little caustic, and yet brilliantly true and completely hilarious. It was delicious. Behind the Scenes at the Museum is in a class of its own. The odd structure, tone, cast of characters all made it unique, exciting , a bit disturbing and utterly captivating. It made me laugh and it made me cry. I think it is a masterpiece.' Susanna Wadeson, Publishing Director at Transworld

If you like Kate Atkinson you might also like to read books by Helen FitzGerald, Elizabeth George and Andrea Levy.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

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.

Browse inside this book


Ruby, the narrator, tells us about her Yorkshire childhood, starting within her mother's birth canal, waiting to be born. Interwoven into her childhood - full of bizarre events, as seen by Ruby (but probably nobody else) - are historical 'footnote sections about Ruby's forebears, which work beautifully. Ruby's delivery is fast and furious, an overflowing cornucopia of stories, characters, dramatic events and adolescent angst - funny, vivid, original, with a neat surprise tucked into the end. Winner of the 1995 Whitbread Prize. (Kirkus UK)'

About the Author

Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been a critically acclaimed writer ever since. 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 several prestigious literary prizes including the Women’s (formerly Orange) and the Costa Novel Prize. She was appointed MBE in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd January 1998


Kate Atkinson

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Black Swan an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd


512 pages


Family Drama
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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