The Museum of You by Carys Bray

About this book…

Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He’s studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want – everything he can think of, at least – to be happy.

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother’s belongings. Volume isn’t important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.

But what you find depends on what you’re searching for.

My review…

I was attracted to this book from the description and that fact that so many people had recommended it after they had read Carys Brays previous book, A Song for Issy Bradley. I haven’t read that but after finishing The Museum of You, it will certainly be added to my wishlist as I just adore the way this author writes! She is a natural storyteller and her words flow so beautifully that sometimes I just had to read as slow as I possibly could just to make sure I got every single ounce of pleasure from them.

This story of Clover Quinn, who lost her mother when she was only six weeks old, is a stunning insight into love, loss and grief but also family and the many forms that takes. Twelve year old Clover and her father Darren take the main roles, taking us through the journeys of their lives without Becky and it felt rather like a coming of age drama for both of them and not just Clover. Having not had a mother around Clover has become very self sufficient but rather lonely too. She has also become rather interested in museums after visiting local ones in her home city of Liverpool (great descriptions of the Titanic exhibition) so she decides, after discovering her mother’s belongings in the spare bedroom, to create exhibits in her own museum as a tribute to her mother.

This book could have become a melting pot of sentimentality and drama but with Carys Brays clever use of prose it never became saccharine sweet or over emotional. In fact, I found it incredibly down to earth especially with its little realistic family foibles. I started to write down all the little phrases that tickled me but stopped when I realised that I just loved ALL of them (the way the mother’s were described as Russian dolls was one of my favourites though). There were a couple of times I did tear up a little bit and those were times that the author touched on my own feelings of being a parent. When Darren was asked the question about the last time he picked his daughter up my heart just skipped a beat as I had never thought about that before-that one day it’s the last time you will ever carry your child but you just don’t know it at the time. I certainly had a lump in my throat after that. I thought that the character creations are just so amazing, my favourite being Mrs Mackerel (I can see the older me in her which is probably not as scary as that sounds!) Her little sayings had me constantly chuckling away to myself throughout. And anyone who feeds their visitors up on Tunnocks teacakes is alright by me (although I just wanted to add that there is no jam in that make of teacake!)

It was the little things that brought this story together because that is life and it isn’t until you look back that you realise the little things were really the big things, as they say! This book has probably been one of my highlights of the year so far as I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting- I didn’t read it, I experienced it! And a wonderful experience it was too.

I received a copy of this book via netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

The Museum of You is available to buy now from Amazon UK

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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