by Anne Youngson
The promotional blurb accompanying this title appealed to me because it mentioned letter writing and Scandinavia, two themes guaranteed to arouse my curiosity. That it concerns also a profound friendship developing between two people who know each other simply because of words on paper was, for me, a delightful bonus.
Meet Me at the Museum is 70-year-old British author, Anne Youngson’s debut novel. Prior to her entry on to the literary scene she worked at senior level in product development for a major car company, and has since supported many charities in governance roles, including becoming Chair of the Writers in Prison Network.
Her tale of obligation, loss of self and a 4th century BCE mummified corpse discovered on the Jutland peninsula centres on the lives of two people who, on the face of it, appear to be utterly mismatched. He, Anders Larsen, the cerebral curator of a museum in Silkeborg. She, Tina Hopgood, a hard-working farmer’s wife from Bury St Edmunds. But fate and a bog body bring them together, enabling them to form a rich, empathetic bond. They find they are alike in many ways: both have grown-up children, both have experienced painful losses, and both quietly survive each day without truly living.
Their gentle philosophising and shared memories become a necessity to them. Anders ponders beauty and violence, while Tina reflects on her love of poetry – in particular, Seamus Heaney’s The Tollund Man. At one point a merman is mentioned, and I half expected us to drift into the realms of magical realism, but no, these characters are way too pragmatic to believe in the existence of such creatures.
Meet Me at the Museum is an epistolary story of love and selflessness. Not only do the words of Anders and Tina elevate them above long-held feelings of monotony and despondency but fill each other with hope for the future. They put a smile on the face of this reader, too.
Many thanks to Transworld Publishers for providing an advance review copy of this title.