In the end, it is my belief, words are the only things that can construct a world that makes sense.
If this is what Kate Atkinson's first novel is like, I am incredibly excited to explore the rest of her works. Seriously, how can someone writing their first book be this
good? No, the novel isn't perfect, but it's astonishingly well crafted for someone who is apparently a novice. Atkinson creates a fascinating main character in this book, a weird, wonderful protagonist, then nests her in the stories of the other women that led to her being her, that led to her being now. There are several wonderfully crafted women here, and I'm only somewhat disappointed that I didn't get to spend more time with some of them, particularly her early relatives. I'd rather not spend much time with her mum though. The story also contains a mystery of sorts, though it's reasonably easy to guess if you think about it for long enough.
I have maybe two minor nitpicks about the story. The first is the “twist”. Like many others have said, while I found the twist easy enough to guess, the whole situation is pretty implausible. While I can just about buy Ruby having blocked out her sister's existence due to PTSD or whatever, I can't really buy the whole attitude of the family where they just never speak about her again and manage never to reveal to Ruby until fairly late in the game that she ever had a sister.
My second problem was that the end of the story seemed a tad rushed. There's all sorts of stuff that happens in Ruby's life that I'd liked to have seen more of, and I think this is that rare novel that could actually do with a few more pages, rather than a few less.
Anyway, brilliant stuff. I own Life After Life
and I'll definitely be giving it a read soon based on this. I give Behind the Scenes at the Museum nine out of ten.