Meet Me at the Museum
“Warm-hearted, clear-minded, and unexpectedly spellbinding. A novel to savor.” —Annie Barrows, co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
In Denmark, Professor Kristian 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 Kristian is thrown into despair. How far are they willing to go to write a new story for themselves?
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: August 7th 2018 by Flatiron Books
“Our letters have meant so much to us because we have both arrived at the same point in our lives. More behind us than ahead of us.”
They have never met. They have never even seen a picture of the other. They live over 700 miles apart. Yet, they have found more comfort and companionship in each other than they ever thought possible.
Tina Hopgood lives in East Anglia, England, on a farm. She has lived there with her husband for over 30 years. Her children, now adults, are part of the farm and her daily life. Tina writes a letter intended to be received by Professor P.V. Glob, a Danish archaeologist at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark. A book that was dedicated to her by this Professor when she was a child, had prompted her to write to him. His discovery and excavation of the well preserved Tullund Man from the bogs of Jutland, is a memory that stayed with her over all the years. One of these days, she will make the trip to the museum to see this man from 250 BC, herself.
“I want there to be a significance in the connection made between you and me in 1964 that links back to the man buried in the bog two thousand years ago.”
Anders works at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark. He receives a letter from a Tina Hopgood from England, intended for Professor P.V. Glob. But the Professor had died several years ago and Anders politely writes her back sending along some general Museum information. Not a long while later, Trina writes back as a means of explaining how all of this has become so important to her and why she has waited so long to follow this interest. Anders politely replies. And this continues, not by e-mail, but the old fashioned way through the postal system. Anders begins to open up about his work and inquiries about her natural surroundings living on the farm in the countryside.
“In particular, I have been thinking of what sort of history that is my special field. What lasts? What is it that determines what lasts?”
Their letters carry on for a timespan of about a year with conversations ranging from history, ecology, herpetology and biology, to venturing into their personal lives, their children, their thoughts, likes and dislikes. Until one day….it stops!
Inspired by the actual Tollund Man and the real Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, this epistolary novel is all about friendship. Trina and Anders share a deep connection that evokes them to think. They are not always of the same opinion, but feel they can respectfully express themselves to the other. Their vulnerabilities makes this novel sweet and real.
The plotline expands beyond the two characters involving their families and what is happening in their lives. In parts you forget you are reading this entire novel in letters. There are moment of joy, despair, hope and loss. It is not a fast paced read. It renders so much honesty and simple goodness, it does not require speed or loud activity. It is a journey inward in a sense. Something to read while sipping hot cocoa. Very lovely and sweet.
I received a digital copy of this ARC from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you kindly.