Thursday, July 26, 2018

Book Review: Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

This is a gentle epistolary novel that is initially deceptive in its subtlety. So when I read the first 10 pages, I wasn't blown away by the book, but I am SO glad I went back to it.

In England, when Tina was a small child, her grade school class was captivated by the story of the discovery of the Tollund Man, a prehistoric man found buried in peat and perfectly preserved, who is now in a museum in Denmark. The class wrote a letter to the professor who found him, and he ended up dedicating his book about the Tollund Man to her class. Tina and her best friend Bella always swore they'd go to the museum to see the Tollund Man. But there was always a reason not to go. And they never got around to it. And now Bella has died.

In her grief, Tina writes to the museum. The professor has died long ago, so one of the curators, Anders, responds. Amusingly, he takes her hypothetical questions to be literal and answers them as best he can. And so Tina responds to his endearing letter. And he writes back. And so on. And a true friendship develops, across countries and languages and different life situations. Tina lives on a farm, her adult children are moving on with their own lives separate from hers, and she's feeling ennui. Anders lives alone, as his difficult wife died years ago, and his adult children have moved away. And yet their different problems draw them together.

This is a quiet and important novel, about connection and relationships and trust and faith in the human experience. I truly loved it.

This book is published by Flatiron, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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