Thursday 27 August 2020

The Museum Makers by Rachel Morris @MoMarcoPolo BLOG TOUR @diana_riley @septemberbooks #TheMuseumMakers #MyLifeInBooks

Museum expert Rachel Morris had been ignoring the boxes under her bed for decades. When she finally opened them, an entire bohemian family history was laid bare. The experience was revelatory – searching for her absent father in the archives of the Tate; understanding the loss and longings of the grandmother who raised her – and transported her back to the museums that had enriched her lonely childhood.
By teasing out the stories of those early museum makers, and the unsung daughters and wives behind them, and seeing the same passions and mistakes reflected in her own family, Morris digs deep into the human instinct for collection and curation.

The Museum Makers by Rachel Morris is published today, 27 August 2020 by September Publishing.

As part of the Blog Tour organised by Diana Riley Marketing, I'm delighted to welcome the author to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books, I also have a wonderful link to a reading from the book, by the author.

My Life in Books - Rachel Morris

1.  It was the books in Saffron Walden library that made me.  I read The Once and Future King by T. H. White when I was about ten and thought it really smart and funny.  I was entranced by how you could mix up different time periods and didn’t have to write realistically about the past.  In other words – though it took me about another thirty years to find the word for it – you are allowed to be delightfully and deliciously meta.

2.  I discovered Mary Renault’s novels when I was about fourteen.  They were so vividly written it was like having a film unfold before my eyes.   I sat moodily in a corner reading them and wishing I had been born in some other time.  Her books changed my life; it was partly down to them that I did classics at university.

3.  As a teenager I liked my fiction really miserable and so I borrowed all Thomas Hardy’s novels from Saffron Walden library.  I particularly liked the gloomy fatalism of Jude the Obscure, and didn’t balk at all at the plot device of having three small children hang themselves.

4.  Move on fifteen years or so and I am reading Angela Carter’s Wise Children.  My tastes have changed and I love her wit and exuberance.  She makes me want to write, shows me that I have something to write about – about women, about myself.

5.  When I had children I really struggled to find novels that expressed what it was like to be a mother.  The closest I came was when I read Margaret Drabble’s The Millstone.  It is written with great simplicity and its poignancy still tugs at me.

6.  I discovered Marilynne Robinson’s novels quite late.  They had a great effect on me, especially her novel Home (which is about exactly that)When the book reaches its inevitable conclusion you want to cry out in protest at the sadness of it all, but you don’t because you know there couldn’t be any other ending.  The search for home is one of the great subjects for a novel.

7.    White Houses by Amy Bloom is a recent novel. I think it will become a classic.  It has a great voice at the heart of it – the raspy, cynical voice of the 1930’s reporter Hicks – who loves helplessly and despite herself until the day she dies. 

8.  And lastly, there is Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower.  I love parts of her other novels but this one I love from end to end, every word of it.  It was published when she was in her seventies and with it she has achieved what every writer hopes for, to write a spectacularly good last novel, as a culmination of everything that has come before.

Rachel Morris - August 2020 

Listen to Rachel Morris read from The Museum Makers

A director of the museum-making company Metaphor, Rachel Morris has been part of the creation, design and delivery of some of the most exciting displays, renovations and museums of the last few decades, from the new Cast Courts at the V&A and the Ashmolean, Oxford to the Terracotta Warriors at the British Museum and Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. 

Rachel is also the author of two novels. 

Twitter @MoMarcoPolo

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