Still reeling from the sudden death of her mother, Jess is about to do the hardest things she has 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.
Thanks so much to Jenny at Hodder for sending me a finished, hardback copy of The Museum of Ordinary People. I loved Mike Gayle’s last novel, All The Lonely People – Hubert Bird still holds a very special place in my heart! You can read my review of that book here and Half A World Away is reviewed here.
The Museum of Ordinary People has a fantastic premise, the idea of a museum where anyone can take that special item that belonged to a loved one, something they can’t necessarily keep, but can’t quite get rid of. Not revered because of the famous person it belonged to, or the material value attached to it, but simply because somebody, somewhere loved it. Alex stumbles across the notion of this in a lock up inherited by Alex and for both this signifies a momentous life change.
This is an engaging, heart warming novel centring on 2 people who are best described as slightly lost or stuck perhaps. Surrounded by a cast of endearing characters Mike Gayle demonstrates again his strength in writing community based novels, real but very special, stories with a heart, tales that remind us of the values we hold. That feels a bit waffly I know, but in this book with the museum in the middle, a group emerges that develops into friendship and giving, to each other but also to the local community and offers meaning and direction.
Still waffly? I know! This is a wonderful piece of contemporary fiction, with friendship and relationships being key themes, but in a gentle way significant issues are tackled here, broken and wounded people and relationships, loss, recovery and moving on are all important aspects of this story.
Jess is our protagonist and the story is told exclusively from her perspective in the first person voice, the chapters are relatively short, averaging seven pages so this is an easy book to keep reading, ‘one more chapter.’ The characters are well established and the character driven plot is easy to follow. A rewarding read that will please fans of Mike Gayle but equally should pull in some new fans, if you haven’t yet read any of his seventeen works of fiction, The Museum of Ordinary People could be a good place to start!
Thanks as always for reading.
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 to 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.