Meet Me at the Museum, by Anne Youngson

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This book first appeared on my radar thanks to Twitter (with the cover showing below), and when I read its brief description, I knew I HAD to read this one! Like right now! I believe it’s released in the UK already, but sadly it wasn’t going to be available in North America until August. That was way too long to wait for what looked like a real gem of a story. I spotted it on Netgalley from Flatiron Books so quickly requested it and began reading as soon as it was approved. It’s a short little book, just over 200 pages in paperback, so it was easy to start and finish in just a few days.

“Warm-hearted, clear-minded, and unexpectedly spellbinding, Meet Me at the Museum is a novel to savor.”
—Annie Barrows, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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?

A blurb from Annie Barrows, co-author of the beloved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? A novel in letters? Sold right?!

Meet Me at the Museum is a sweet and lovely story that begins with a letter from Tina in Bury St. Edmunds to a Professor Glob inquiring about the Tollund Man housed in a museum in Denmark. Professor Glob has long been deceased however, so it’s the museum’s curator that instead replies to Tina. 

Anders works at the museum in Silkeborg and what begins as a simple response to Tina’s letter blossoms into a lovely and touching correspondence. Soon they are openly sharing stories about their lives – their losses, their regrets, what they find joy in and it continues to blossom into what they feel is love. However, their correspondence is abruptly stopped by Tina and she drops a bombshell of information on Anders. However, they continue their correspondence and Anders continues to hope she’ll one day visit the museum in Silkeborg, where he will be patiently waiting for her arrival. 

While reading, I couldn’t help but think this would have been a beautifully enhanced reading experience if it was in audio format. As it is done entirely through letters, it reminded me of the lovely experience of listening to Frances and Bernard, by Carlene Bauer. Like Meet Me at the Museum, Frances and Bernard is told entirely in epistolary format and Bauer charmingly imagined an entire relationship between Frances and Bernard, developed through their correspondence over a number of years. The reader is taken on this delightful journey voiced by Stephen R Thorne for Bernard and Angela Brazil for Frances. We are taken on a similar journey through Anders and Tina’s relationship and I couldn’t help but wonder how much more I would have liked this story if each letter was read to me if voiced with their emotion and inflection for these two characters (anyone from the audio of Guernsey, like John Lee, would have been fantastic!).

I enjoyed Ander’s letters more so than Tina’s, and found his stories of loneliness following the death of his wife, his wife’s sad story and how reading Tina’s letters got him outside more and to open his eyes more towards nature and exploring beauty around him more enjoyable.  For me, it went a little off the rails with Tina’s story, her marriage and how she handled things following the bombshell of information she dropped on Anders. Overall, all of it was quite “rambley”, but really, a sweet little story and one I read mostly when it was pouring rain and gentle thunder was rolling around outside. What better way to read a sweet little story like Meet Me at the Museum!