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Meet Me At The Museum

meet me at the museumBy Anne Youngson

When Tina Hopgood an English farmer’s wife first writes to a Danish curator about an ancient exhibit in the Silkeborg Museum, neither of them expect their correspondence to develop into such a loving and close relationship.

As the pair continue to correspond they write to each other not just about their shared interest in the exhibit, the Tollund Man, but also about themselves. Tina, lonely in her farmhouse in Bury St Edmunds and the widowed professor begin to write about their other interests, details of their daily lives and past experiences. As Tina explains in one letter, “You see I need your letters to make sense of the world”.

As the number of letters grow, the pair begin to exchange increasingly intimate and personal details about their lives. Despite living so far apart, Anders Larsen and Tina discover a shared love of nature, philosophy and view of family. So when Tina’s letters suddenly stop, Anders becomes desperate for news of her.

Written by Burford’s very own Anne Youngson, Meet Me at the Museum is published this May and has already received critical acclaim. Anne was first inspired to write the book when she read about the Tollund Man whose 2,000 year old perfectly preserved body was found in a peat bog in 1950 wearing just a skull cap with a noose round his neck. Seamus Heaney, who wrote a poem about the Tollund Man describes “the mild and meditative face of a neighbour from the Iron Age.”

But the book is also a celebration of the art of letter writing. At one point Anders explains that if Tina had written an email she would have received a short succinct email in return as he is of the opinion that no one reads an email more than four lines long. “Instead I had to compose a letter. I could picture you reading the letter and I imagined you would do this slowly and carefully, so I felt I needed to write my letter to you slowly and carefully” By taking the time to write a letter, put a stamp on it and post it, the sender deserves a better, more considered response. In just the same way, Anne deserves all the rapturous reviews she receives.

By Sara Hall

Madhatter Bookshop
122 High Street, Burford
OX18 4QJ