A deep and luminous story of late love and second chances – an enduring novel of ideas about life, love and the surprises it throws at us.
How’s that for a description? Totally impossible for me to resist, and I’m really delighted to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson – published in hardback and for kindle by Doubleday on 17th May. Thank you to the publishers and Anne at Random Things Tours for my reading e-copy – 224 pages of absolute perfection.
Sometimes it takes a stranger to really know who you are
When Tina Hopgood writes a letter of regret to a man she has never met, she doesn’t expect a reply.
When Anders Larsen, a lonely museum curator, answers it, nor does he.
They’re both searching for something, they just don’t know it yet. Anders has lost his wife, along with his hopes and dreams for the future. Tina is trapped in a marriage she doesn’t remember choosing.
Slowly their correspondence blossoms as they bare their souls to each other with stories of joy, anguish and discovery. But then Tina’s letters suddenly cease, and Anders is thrown into despair.
Can their unexpected friendship survive?
For all of the first two pages, I can hardly believe that I actually thought I might not like this book – it seemed a little dry, and I’m not the world’s biggest fan of a book written as an exchange of letters. And when I re-emerged into the light two hours later, I just couldn’t believe my initial reaction – this is such a very special book, thoroughly deserving of every single accolade I’ve seen it receive (some as part of the blog tour, others on the Amazon page from so many authors I admire).
I loved watching the long distance friendship of Tina and Anders develop – their letters becoming warmer and increasingly personal, sharing their very different lives and backgrounds, the small details of their day-to-day lives, their family concerns and moral dilemmas, their great sadnesses and their moments of joy. I adored the little touches of kindness and caring – the briefcase items that make you smile and bring a tear – and the way their correspondence becomes so much more to both their lives than a simple exchange of letters.
The writing is quite superb – the characters’ “voices” entirely distinct, their personalities slowly emerging through the beauty of their words and thoughts. The underpinning theme of loneliness – in an empty space or when surrounded by people – made me ache inside. And the way they each picked up on the others’ small touches and mentions was simply beautiful – the recurring image of the raspberries unpicked and the fern fronds unfurling will remain with me for ever.
This book touched me to the heart – quite beautiful and exceptionally moving, and one of the very best books I’ve read this year.
About the author
Anne Youngson worked for many years in senior management in the car industry before embarking on a creative career as a writer. She has supported many charities in governance roles, including Chair of the Writers in Prison Network, which provided residencies in prisons for writers. She lives in Oxfordshire and is married with two children and three grandchildren to date. Meet Me at the Museum is her debut novel, which is due to be published around the world.