This week sees the publication of Meet Me At The Museum, a debut novel from Anne Youngson. And from when I first heard about this book I knew it would be one I would enjoy. It is an epistolary novel which is a format I enjoy, and in it we get to read the letters exchanged between two strangers, and see how their relationship develops as they learn more and more about each other.
It all begins when Tina Hopgood writes a letter to a professor at a museum in Denmark, regarding a book he had dedicated to her and her schoolmates in the 1960’s. The memory of the discovery of the Tollund Man and its significance to her has left her with a feeling of regret for having not made the trip to see it in person, and so she writes to inform the professor of these thoughts which are dominant in her mind. However, in the absence of the Professor, she receives a response from Anders Larsen, the museum curator. Neither Tina nor Anders anticipated a response, but their exchange is just the start of their correspondence, and their friendship. As the story progresses these two strangers reveal more about their lives, and through each other they discover things about themselves they never knew before.
I am a fan of epistolary novels and I really enjoyed the format of this novel as I love the idea of receiving a letter from another part of the world, each one containing something precious. I was immediately intrigued by the story behind Tina and Anders and I found it to be a compelling read which I read within a couple of sittings. And in each of their letters I found a new story to savour, and each one was beautifully written. Each letter offered the writer the opportunity to express their feelings, address the emotions that they have kept inside, feelings of grief and regret and love and hope. I really enjoyed discovering more about these characters as their relationship built and they shared parts of their lives with each other. Along the way we discover that both Tina and Anders feel alone – Anders through the loss of his wife, and Tina through events she is just starting to unravel, and so the significance of their friendship becomes clear. There are moving, poignant moments within this story, but there is also a feeling of hope, and of the importance of friendship as Tina and Anders help to heal one and other, as they reflect on the events of their past, and plans for the future.
Meet Me At The Museum is a wonderful little book in which the reader has the privilege to share these letters between strangers, and it is perfectly written story which captures the ups and downs of life, and those little things that can be treasured, wherever you may be in the world. It was published on 17th May by Doubleday Books, with thanks to Alison Barrow for providing a copy for review.