Book Review Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson(many thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy of this title)
It feels like I've been waiting to talk about this book forever and although it isn't officially published until mid-May that is less than a month away so now is the time to pre-order with your favourite bookshop or to get an early reservation in at your local library.
Anyhow back at the start of the year when I was still really quite unwell and despondent because I hadn't managed to read any fiction for over a month I saw people talking about this book on Twitter and then in lists of 'books to watch out for in 2018.' It sounded just my thing and I was approved for an advanced copy on Netgalley and then tentatively opened it up.
The joy - this book was written in an epistolary style and while the letters crossing to and fro the North Sea did link to each other as the tale unfolded they weren't forming a long, continuous narrative. The letters themselves were also reasonably short and so I could really stop and start with as I needed while thanks to the format the story was almost recapped in each new letter so I was always able to pick the plot up.
This is a very gentle novel and is primarily about Tina, a Suffolk farmer's wife, and Anders, a Danish museum curator. Slowly we learn about them - their lives, families, thoughts and sorrows - nothing is off limits however hard the topic may be. Letters allow both characters to share their inner most thoughts and a real, believable, friendship grows between the writers, and I was so immersed in their worlds that I almost felt guilty for reading their private letters.
There are twists and turns, I didn't spot most of them coming but they all felt convincing - I hope that this is true for all readers and not just because I was ill when I read the book. Reviews are comparing this to another of my favourite books, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I can definitely see why - and not just because the book is made up of letters. It is a gentle story but with a realistic edge that stops it becoming saccharine sweet, it also doesn't take the easy or obvious route which was a nice touch.
The final selling point for me was that while most of Tina's story takes place in Suffolk, around Bury St Edmunds, there is also a trip to a couple of archaeological sites in north Norfolk. I was aware of the Warham Iron Age Fort (and indeed have visited it) but I didn't know that there was also an Iron Age Barrow in the area and I plan on luring Mr Norfolkbookworm to visit it soon with the promise of a pub lunch...
Even a few months on from reading this book I am still not managing to read long or complicated fiction books but this one will always be special to me as it did show that I could still read and enjoy fiction and that mood boost was incredibly important.