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January 18, 2019
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
What is the chance that a letter to a stranger will lead to a deep friendship?
Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Epistolary, Friendship, England, Denmark, Archeology
Told in epistolary form, the story in Meet Me at the Museum unfolds from alternating viewpoints as we meet the two main characters through their letters. Tina is a hard-working, loyal, and duty bound English farmer’s wife, mother, and grandmother, and she is also grieving the recent loss of her best friend, Bella. In thinking of the past, she remembers the promise that she and Bella made to each other to visit the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark to see the mummified Tolland Man from the Iron Age. Life intervened and now Tina is in her 60s and her friend is gone. She is inspired to write to Professor Glob, author of The Bog People, who mentions school children in the dedication of his book (our fictional Tina is one of the school children). Tina isn’t aware that Glob has died, so quiet, kind, and introspective Anders, curator of the Denmark museum, writes back to Tina. Tina and Anders begin a thoughtful and heartfelt correspondence. Anders is grieving the recent loss of his wife and through letters, Anders and Tina share intimate details of their lives with each other and express thoughts that they have difficulty sharing with anyone else. As they discuss archeology, the Tolland Man, their philosophies of life, grief, and their families, they develop an endearing and unique friendship that could possibly lead to more.
Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars
Letter writing: “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways.
I happen to love epistolary novels and Meet Me at the Museum is in the tradition of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, 84, Charing Cross Road, and Last Christmas in Paris with the tenderness of finding a soul mate later in life as in Our Souls at Night. Even though the story unfolds in letters, we become interested and invested in their lives as they each navigate an unexpected crisis.
Youngson’s writing is poignant, beautiful, reflective, and thoughtful. Meet Me at the Museum is character driven and meant to be savored. The depth of friendship (hope of love?) that develops through old-fashioned letter writing is heartwarming and inspirational. The author does an exemplary job of reminding us of the traditional joys and art of letter writing and how it serves a purpose that can’t be replaced by email or text messages.
As a bonus, I also learned a great deal about The Tolland Man from the Iron Age.
Themes. Meet Me at the Museum has some thoughtful themes including: sacrifice, choices, regret, meaning and purpose, grief, loneliness, second chances, friendship, listening, encouragement, gentle advice, and “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways. Book clubs might enjoy discussion topics such as:
- Do you think everyone finds a soul mate?
- Does a biological father have a right to know about the birth of a child?
- Is it ever too late to pursue a lifelong dream?
- Do you believe in second chances?
- In what ways have you experienced the beautiful craft of letter writing?
- What can be learned from older characters (60+)?
- How would you apply the raspberry metaphor to your life?
- Realistically, what is the likelihood of two strangers who have never seen each other and live hundreds of miles apart finding comfort, understanding, and friendship solely through the written word?
Recommended. Fans of character driven stories, literary fiction, and reflective writing will find Meet Me at the Museum an enjoyable read. Book clubs might find some thoughtful discussion topics, and, of course, if you enjoy the art of letter writing this is a must read. If you’re looking for a fast paced, page turner filled with suspense and lots of action or if you know you don’t enjoy epistolary format, you might want to skip this one. Meet Me at the Museum is more than the ‘women’s fiction’ category suggests. I tend to associate women’s fiction with ‘chick lit,’ and I assure you it’s not that. It’s a read that grew on me and one that I enjoyed more and more as I delved deeper into the story, their lives, and their relationship. It’s a quiet story and perfect for reading in front of the fire on a winter night or on a porch swing on a lazy summer day.
Host Tip: Book Clubs will want to serve raspberries for dessert!
My Rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author, Anne Youngson
Anne Youngson had a long and successful career in the motor industry after finishing a degree in English from Birmingham. Now, Anne Youngson is retired, lives in Oxfordshire, and is studying for a PhD at Oxford Brookes. She has two children and three grandchildren to date. Meet Me at the Museum is her first novel and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.
*It brings me the greatest joy to read, review, and support debut authors!
Happy Reading Book Worms
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
Next week, I’ll post a review of a lighter book, The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller.
I’m also reading Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (a work in progress and review date TBD)
This is important! Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!
In Movie News….
And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.
(You might want to put these four books on your ‘want to read list’ in preparation!)
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I’m curious….are you a fan of the epistolary format? If yes, which have been your favorites?
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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.