Monday, May 29, 2023

The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle

The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle is a feel-good, meringue-with-ice-cream-strawberries-and-hot-fudge dessert of a novel. I loved Gayle’s All the Lonely People and his latest shares the same sensitivity. Jess is overwhelmed with grief after her Trinidadian mother’s recent death. After cleaning out her mother's home, Jess has kept several momentos and has given many of her mother’s other possessions to charity shops. Jess shares an apartment with her white boyfriend Guy, a minimalist, who enjoys his carefully curated modern apartment.  The apartment isn't large and Jess understands that there isn't room for the set of encyclopedias her mother gave her when she was eleven so she tries to donate them, but no charity shops will accept them and she can't bear to think of throwing them away. 

Jess’s friend Luce learns of an odd space called the Museum of Ordinary People housed in a warehouse that takes such items so Jess visits the warehouse and meets Alex who has just inherited the warehouse and accompanying business. He's planning to sell it,  but when Jess proposes a collaboration, a dream is born. 

Later, two major secrets are revealed. They almost feel unexpected, yet they make sense and add to the fairytale quality of the book. 

My favorite part of this novel is the following quote which has had me thinking for days:

The older you get the more home becomes about people rather than place. The older you get the more roots are about where you want to be rather than where you come from.” Jess needs to find out where she wants to be, but first she must deal with where she comes from. 

Summing it Up: if you're looking for a diversion and a charmer, The Museum of Ordinary People is just what you want. It sweetly shows how tied we are to possessions that evoke memories of those we've lost and how we can find ways to retain those recollections. It's a great beach read. 

Rating: 4 Stars

Publication Date: May 30, 2023 (U. S.)

Categories: Dessert, Fiction, Sweet Bean Paste

Author Website: 

What Others are Saying:

Kirkus Reviews: 

“Moving and heartwarming, this is a story about love and loss and holding onto the memories that make us who we are. Fans of character-driven relationship fiction by Clare Pooley, Rachel Joyce, and Freya Sampson will want to pick this one up.” —Booklist

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