Book Review: Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

Meet Me at the MuseumAbout the Book

In Denmark, Professor Anders Larsen, an urbane man of facts, has lost his wife and his hopes for the future. On an isolated English farm, Tina Hopgood is trapped in a life she doesn’t remember choosing. Both believe their love stories are over.

Brought together by a shared fascination with the Tollund Man, subject of Seamus Heaney’s famous poem, they begin writing letters to one another. And from their vastly different worlds, they find they have more in common than they could have imagined. As they open up to one another about their lives, an unexpected friendship blooms. But then Tina’s letters stop coming, and Anders is thrown into despair. How far are they willing to go to write a new story for themselves?

Format: Hardcover, ebook (224 pp.)    Publisher: Doubleday
Published: 17th May 2018  Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

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My Review

In her debut novel, written in epistolary form, Anne Youngson not only gives the reader an insight into the thoughts and feelings of Tina and Anders but explores the act of letter writing itself.   What emerges from their correspondence is that the act of transforming thoughts into words can have a therapeutic, even cathartic, quality.  In one of her early letters, Tina writes, ‘Please be aware, I am writing to you to make sense of myself.’  Later she confides, ‘I don’t know where these thoughts come from except that when I sit down to write to you it seems as if all the strings holding my conscious mind together come loose and let me sub-conscious leak out.’

Both Tina and Anders seem to be  trying to make sense of things in their own mind and in this respect their letters are an unburdening and at times have a confessional quality.  For example, Anders writes at one point: ‘You have made it possible for me to talk of things I have never spoken of before, and to understand what has been hidden.’

Of course, Tina and Anders are fortunate to have found a correspondent so in tune with their own reflective, thoughtful nature.  As Anders says, ‘We have written at length and thoughtfully, and to do this, we have both had to read the letters we received in a thoughtful way.’

Tina and Anders share an explorative, questioning approach to their lives and experiences in their letters although Anders is initially more analytical and less willing to share his emotions than Tina.  However this changes in the course of their correspondence.  The way they open and sign-off their letters reflects a growing informality and affection and a sense of the mutual support, perhaps even dependence, the letters provide.  As Tina confides at one point, ‘I do not know how I would cope without your letters.’

Meet Me at the Museum is a tender story of friendship but also of regret, disappointment and the questioning we probably have all done at some time about life decisions we’ve taken – wondering about the road not travelled, so to speak.  As Tina says, ‘We have been talking to each other about where life went, and if the way we each spent it was the way we meant to have spent it or would have chosen to spend it if we had known when we made our choices  what the other choices were…’

The conclusion left this reader not disappointed but slightly sad.  However, I’d like to think that the ending I hoped for did take place in some alternative literary universe.

You can find out about the Silkeborg Museum on their website and more about The Tollund Man here.

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In three words: Intimate, reflective, moving

Try something similar…Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce (read my review here)

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.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

    1. Thanks, I really enjoyed it too. It was lovely to hear Anne talk about the book at Henley Literary Festival recently. I’ll be posting a full write-up of the event in the next few days.


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