The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle

When I began blogging, Mike Gayle was one of the first authors I met in real life and I have never forgotten what a wonderful experience that was. Ironically, although I think I’ve bought them all since then, I’ve read too few of Mike’s books and so I’m delighted to rectify that error by sharing my review of The Museum of Ordinary People today. My huge thanks to the folk at Team Bookends for sending me a copy of The Museum of Ordinary People in return for an honest review and to Jenny Platt at Hodder for including me in this blog tour.

You’ll find my review of Mike’s All the Lonely People here.

Published by Hodder and Stoughton today, 7th July 2022, The Museum of Ordinary People is available for purchase through the links here.

The Museum of Ordinary People

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 heart-breaking stories that span generations and continents, but also unearth long buried secrets that lie much closer to home.

Inspired by a box of mementos found abandoned in a skip following a house clearance, The Museum of Ordinary People is a thought-provoking and poignant story of memory, grief, loss and the things we leave behind.

My Review of The Museum of Ordinary People

The Museum of Ordinary People is classic Mike Gayle gorgeousness. It’s simultaneously heart-warming and heart breaking, bringing a tear to the eye and an ache in the heart because this author knows exactly how to convey our innermost hopes and fears through his fabulous storytelling and characterisation. What Mike Gayle does so effortlessly is to provide a glimpse into humanity and teach us what really matters in life but in a way that entertains and leaves the reader feeling a sense of love and belonging that might have been missing in our lives. He’s such an evocative writer.

I loved the plot. The discovery of the museum, Jess’s involvement in it, her relationship with Guy, her friendship with Luce, as well as the developments with Alex and the others are situations that are heightened by some twists and discoveries along the way so that The Museum of Ordinary People is really entertaining and interesting as well as moving and engaging.

Jess is quite wonderful. Like so many of us she is filled with self doubt, thinking she has rather lost her way in life so that the reader feels as if she’s a friend we know well. I was desperate for her to be happy. Her Mum is brilliantly depicted despite not being physically present so that we experience her memory every bit as vividly as Jess does.

Indeed, Jess’s self discovery, and finding what is important in her life, is a crucial thread and it is Mike Gayle’s themes that elevate the book into a fabulous read. He imbues his writing with such profound understanding of grief, of how we can find ourselves in places, situations and relationships that we never intended, of guilt, atonement and the need to belong, it is as if he has looked into our hearts and helped us find our place in life and heal. Certainly I expected a positive ending to The Museum of Ordinary People, but there’s no sense of simple contrivance; more a mature and insightful understanding of who we really are that touches and enlightens the reader.

I found The Museum of Ordinary People impossible to tear myself away from. It’s absolutely lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

About Mike Gayle

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 sixteen novels, including The Man I Think I Know, selected as a World Book Night title, and Half A World Away, selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages. In 2021, Mike was the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association. He lives in Birmingham with his wife, kids and greyhound.

For more information, find Mike on Instagram or Facebook, visit his website or follow him on Twitter @mikegayle.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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