Cathy is a young woman who escapes her feral childhood in a rundown chalet on the East coast of England to become a curator of natural history in Berlin. Although seemingly liberated from her destructive past, she commemorates her most significant memories and love affairs – one savage, one innocent, one full of potential – in a collection of objects that form a bizarre museum of her life. When an old lover turns up at a masked party at Berlin’s natural history museum and events take a terrifying turn, Cathy must confront their shared secrets in order to protect her future. This is an exquisitely crafted, rare and original work.
If this sounds like a cheap thriller, it’s anything but ― Stothard’s exquisite prose sees to that. Instead, it’s a glitteringly lyrical portrait of an emotionally remote young woman who, at the age of ten, was involved in a tragedy that has indelibly scarred her and who, for most of her life, has taken more solace in collecting random objects than she has in people … a gripping slow-burner which finds deep metaphorical resonance in museums and the natural world for its themes of memory and rebirth.
(Claire Allfree The Daily Mail)
The Museum of Cathy, from Orange Prize-shortlistee Anna Stothard can occasionally make for uncomfortable reading as a raw, intricate look into a young woman’s beautiful, broken world. At times the reader can feel like a human pinball, being fired through the erratic psyche of the three main characters, stuck in their innermost thoughts in desperate need of fresh air and a faster pace.
(Amy Kean Disclaimer Magazine)
Stothard steers her narrative forward steadily and with great control, perhaps another aspect of this being a bulwark against all the frightening things in the world. This is a novel to be savoured, not least for its teeming parade of beasts: the text itself is a wunderkammer that makes us swoon with its surfeit of content. But, beyond that, it contains a wealth of emotional truth which is held out like a rope to rescue the drowning. The complex unfolding of the plot, like reverse origami, is beautifully done. We attempt to assert control over our lives by imposing order but, as Stothard shows, ultimately things need to be overturned so that we can breathe and grow.
(Jane Housham The Guardian)
The Museum of Cathy is a gripping and stylish novel. Stothard’s lacko fo formal innovaton is more than compensated for by its emotional punch, which both staggers the reader and had the potential to transform our understanding of violent relationships.
(Alice Hiller The Times Literary Supplement)
I was completely swept away with this story. Stothard’s technique allows us to watch events unfold with regular insights into Cathy’s past that slowly reveal the reality of what she has been hiding from with a steadily rising sense of foreboding. I found the exploration of characters sensitively handled and yet provided enough suspense and contained a level of sinister tension that had me guessing just what each one may be capable of. This is exquisite, beautifully written prose and the use of the museum as a theme throughout with setting, a means of storytelling and metaphor, is quite brilliantly executed. It is personal, it is universal and it is something that lives within each of us and the memories we hold. Cathy’s story moved me and I so wanted her to find the escape she desperately needed. Highly recommended
(Shelley Fallows Lovereading.com)