The Museum of Ordinary People

The uplifting and thought-provoking new novel from the bestselling author of Half a World Away and All the Lonely People

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Pub Date 7 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 8 Jul 2022

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The superb new novel from the bestselling author of Half A World Away and All the Lonely People.

Filled with warmth, tenderness and character. It really made me think, too - I love that it encourages us to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. A gorgeous novel - Beth O'Leary

'A keenly observed and warm-hearted tale of how people cope with loss and keep their dreams alive against the odds . . . a delightful read' - Ruth Hogan

'His best yet...a relatable and yet brilliantly original story - this is a novel I could recommend to so many people' - Clare Mackintosh

'Spilling over with Mike Gayle's trademark warmth and tenderness, it's so insightful and thought-provoking on loss and grief' - Holly Miller

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 heartbreaking 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.

'This author's books just get better and better' Good Housekeeping

'Mike Gayle is the king of touching, human stories' Heat

The superb new novel from the bestselling author of Half A World Away and All the Lonely People.

Filled with warmth, tenderness and character. It really made me think, too - I love that it encourages...

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ISBN 9781529344752
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

Just a beautiful book!
I love the concept of an ordinary things museum- after all, many of the exhibits in "real" museums are just ordinary things from long ago or far away or both and I like the idea that at some point in time a side car, a set of encyclopedias and a bunch of other junk will be venerated as being extraordinary!

The book explores relationships, adversity and triumph through the voice of Jess as she struggles with the loss of her Mum and reassesses her life and direction and does so in a thought provoking manner but still with the humour afforded to novels by Mr Gayle,.
Loved it!

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There’s something about a Mike Gayle book that always manages to take you somewhere unexpected and hits you right in the feels. I’ll be thinking about this book for quite some time. Outstanding.

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I read this book in a day as I couldn't put it down. It is a sweet and moving story which really made me think about the objects in our lives which are just thrown away when we are no longer alive. It also raises questions about parents and children and the love they have and show. Definitely a book I will be recommending.

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A beautiful depiction of grief, recovery and relationships. This was more of a slow-burner for me than any of Gayle's other novels, but that is not to take away from the enjoyment factor - instead it allowed me to read slowly through the book and enjoy the development of the characters and the storyline. It definitely didn't feel rushed.

Whilst there were few surprises in the story, as I felt a lot was heavily signposted, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read - perfect for chilling with over summer and relaxing. A really beautiful book.

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I don’t know whether it’s since I lost my own father and became more aware of them but there seem to be more and more books exploring grief and the ordinary experiences of loss. I do not see this as a bad thing at all. I’ve read a couple of other books by the same author so although I read this through netgalley, I probably would have bought it myself anyway (thanks netgalley)
This story is about Jess who loses her mum and in the process of dealing with the practicalities following death, she comes across the ‘museum of ordinary people’. The book focuses on Jess and how her life changes after her loss but also touches on the complexities of the things we leave behind. This made it a very easy and approachable read without becoming inaccessible to those without a degree in counselling or literature. Not sure it needed the epilogue though as nice a story as it was.
Enjoyable read and would recommend

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I loved this book - I have enjoyed all the Mike Gayle books I have read before but I think the subject matter of this book really struck a chord.

Jess arrives at the Museum of Ordinary People following the sudden death of her mother. As she clears her house she realises that she does not want to part with some of her mother’s belongings because of the memories attached to them. The museum houses belongings left by ordinary people which have meaning for those left behind and which speak to others.

Jess takes up the mantle of the original owner in seeking to preserve these treasures and let others enjoy them.

She is ably supported by Alex and Angel in her quest. By taking on this challenge both Jess and Alex are able to come to terms with their pasts and find a way to move forward.

An uplifting story - full of hope.

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When Jess' mother dies and she has to undertake the heartbreaking task of clearing her house, and deciding what she can reasonably keep and what must be disposed of, she finds herself at the start of a wonderful, heartwarming, convoluted story that I can only describe as both uplifting and satisfying.
Mike Gayle has the most wonderful gift in that he can tap into all those things we dearly desire but rarely say out loud and he has the ability to make us feel everything that his characters are going through. He really is the master of all encompassing storytelling.
As with all Mike Gayle's books, I found myself relating to parts of different characters. My own family came to this country in the 50s and 60s from the Caribbean and they too settled in and around the Northampton area, so I found myself loving Jess immediately. We have all kept things from our dearly departed loved ones that make no sense to anyone else, but mean the world to us - I feel that everyone can relate to that.
A stonking, full on 5 stars from me.

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I absolutely love this author and couldn’t wait to read his latest as I have grown up with his books and have read them all and feel like I am coming home when I read them as they are all highly relatable. This was such a beautiful and uplifting read with charming characters and such a heartwarming story. I like the main character in the book don’t like throwing things away and tend to hold on to them as I don’t want to let go of the memories they hold and made me think of items I have had in the past and what has happened to them and how I would feel more likely to get rid of things if I knew that they were going somewhere as special as the museum of ordinary people. The author has also explored a lot of other themes throughout the book which were done in a very sensitive way. I loved how the story unfolded at the turn of every page. This has been one of my best reads of 2022 so far and a book that will stay with me for a long time.

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Mike Gayle has written a beautiful masterpiece yet again.

A totally uplifting wonderful read.

Jess after losing her mum hasn't got room for the things she would like to keep and it brings her to the museum of ordinary people where they can be stored.

I absolutely loved the characters Jess and really felt for poor Alex, what a beautiful person he is.

A must read and my book of the year.

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I really enjoyed this book, it was well written with an engaging and uplifting storyline and well developed characters. I couldn't put this book down and read it in one sitting. I eill definitely be looking at more of this authors work.

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I have heard so many readers talk fondly of Mike Gayle’s writing, and despite having at least two of his books in my towering tbr, The Museum of Ordinary People is his first read for me. Having just finished, I wish it hadn’t taken me so long.

Our lovely main character is Jess, an only child, who is struggling to cope with the bereavement of her Mum. It is the soul destroying process of clearing her Mum’s house, full of memory inducing belongings, that brings her to The Museum of Ordinary People. The other characters are believable, quirky, flawed and wonderfully human. The story is beautiful, an emotional idea, so very unique.

I’ve been thinking about what I would add to the Museum’s collection. For me, it would be the wheelbarrow that my Grandad used to wheel me around the garden, when I was little. I used to squeal with delight as I held on tight over the bumpy pathways, heading for the rhubarb patch. It evokes beautiful, treasured Summer memories. An object that to most would be meaningless, but to me, a priceless object, full of emotion.

The Museum of Ordinary People is an uplifting 5* book, which left me feeling warm and cosy. If you are in need of a feel good read, comforting and kind, I highly recommend this book. While you are reading, I guarantee your museum piece will spring happily to mind. I hope this book will bring you as much warmth and happiness as it did for me.

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This was such an uplifting read, lighthearted but with a lot of depth and with some wonderful main characters. Jess is still grieving her mum but has to reluctantly get rid of a set of encyclopaedias that have sentimental meaning to her, her friend tells her about The Museum of Ordinary People and she takes them there to donate. When she gets there the address is actually a house clearance company and there she meets Alex who is reeling from inheriting the business from someone he has no relation to or link that he knows of never mind realising it has a museum attached he was wholly unaware of. The stories behind the items in the museum were simple but good and I think we all could benefit from knowing our special items however simple they may seem will be cherished and cared for so the memories live on. The museum crew were such a mixed bunch but great and Alex’s own story was thoughtfully told. 9/10

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Once again Mike Gayle has done it again.

An author like no other, having read numerous of his books now, I’m still blown away by each of them.

The master of unique stories, that have you engaged from the beginning. This one does not let it down.

The museum of ordinary people, will have you thinking about something in your life that you would put or have put in the ‘museum of ordinary people’.

You’ll laugh and cry with his book, but I can ensure you, you’ll love it.

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