Delighted to join the blog tour for Mike Gayle’s The Museum of Ordinary People today. Huge thanks to Jenny at Hodder & Stoughton for the opportunity to join and for the review copy. Let’s see what this novel is all about.
Author : Mike Gayle
Title : The Museum of Ordinary People
Pages : 340
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date : July 7, 2022
Source : Publisher Review Copy
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Still reeling from the sudden death of her mother, Jess is about to do the hardest thing she’s ever done: empty her childhood home so that it can be sold.
But when in the process Jess stumbles across the mysterious Alex, together they become custodians of a strange archive of letters, photographs, curios and collections known as The Museum of Ordinary People.
As they begin to delve into the history of the objects in their care, Alex and Jess not only unravel heartbreaking stories that span generations and continents, but also unearth long buried secrets that lie much closer to home.
| MY THOUGHTS |
Around this time last year, I was first introduced to Mike Gayle and I immediately fell in love with his writing and his characters, who were all dealing with such incredibly relatable issues. What started as a break from the gore and gruesomeness I tend to read quickly turned into a newly discovered author finding his way onto my go-to list, which surprised me as this isn’t normally a genre I tend to go for. But boy, Mike Gayle is really something else.
Jess Baxter has just lost her mum and has had to clear out her childhood home, which is by far one of the hardest things any of us will ever have to do. Bits and bobs are given away via Facebook, furniture goes out the door, clothes are donated to a charity shop but what about things that come attached with a multitude of memories? What about this set of encyclopaedias Jess was gifted by her mum, for instance? You can’t just throw something like that away, can you? But Jess doesn’t have any space for it anywhere.
This is how she comes across the Museum of Ordinary People. Set up years ago by a man called Thomas Barley, it features a huge collection of the most varied objects that used to mean something to someone who is no longer here. Why should it only be the things from kings and queens, or artists and movie stars, of famous people in history that have to be displayed so they will never be forgotten? Why not the sewing machine your grandmother spent so many hours on creating clothes for the entire family? Why not the chessboard your grandfather used to teach you how to play the game? Sure, their names won’t be in the history books but their lives meant something too. I bet you’re sitting reading this right now, thinking of an item you would gladly have given to the museum for it to be preserved. Things that wouldn’t mean a thing to anyone, but mean the world to you. And just like that, the relatable and believable every day issues Jess is having to deal with pull you into this story and don’t let go. There is so much to identify with here.
Coming across this museum will change Jess’s life in more ways than one. It will force her to take a good look at her life, to figure out where her priorities lie and to create a whole new circle of friends. Each and every one of these characters is just delightful. Warm and engaging, and I quite would have liked to have spent time with them for real. But not everyone understands her passion for this project. And maybe some things shouldn’t be preserved either. Maybe some things are thrown away for a good reason.
Then there is the underlying mystery of Alex, the current owner of the museum. He inherited the lot from the previous owner but he has no idea who Thomas Barley was or why he’d leave Alex all these things. I thought I knew why but I while I may have been slightly on the right path, I wandered off into a different direction and ended up getting it wrong. I adored Alex and rooted for him from the get-go.
‘The Museum of Ordinary People‘ is full of compassion and beautiful writing that just hits you right there in the feels. Heartwarming and uplifting, yet also heartbreaking and thought-provoking. I fully expected it to leave me with a lump in my throat. It did but luckily I avoided the ugly crying because that’s always so hard to explain when you’re not home alone. I absolutely loved the entire concept of the museum and couldn’t help but wish it was a real thing. Sure, yes, some of it is maybe slightly predictable but look at my face not caring one iota because it’s just the most delightful novel.
So, it’s official. This crime fiction lover is completely enamoured with the novels of Mike Gayle and I can’t wait for his next one.
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a Features Editor and agony uncle. He has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, the Guardian and Cosmopolitan.
Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend, which was hailed by the Independent as ‘full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations,’ and by The Times as ‘a funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic’. Since then he has written thirteen novels including Mr Commitment, Turning Thirty and The Man I Think I Know. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages. In 2021, Mike is the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
20 Books of Summer : 11/20