"Meet Me at the Museum" Book Discussion and Raspberry Muffins Recipe
A middle-aged farmer’s wife fascinated by the ancient Tollund man preserved in a museum in Denmark writes a letter to the professor who wrote about him. The person who answers her letter, however, is a man of nearly the same age, a curator who grows to share a deep bond with her, and will leave both of them questioning their lives’ choices. “Holding out a hand to a hand preserved from the past, hoping to be part of a chain that in some way preserved [them] into the future.” Anders also has a daughter with a conundrum and an unconventional solution, which sparks much debate between Tina’s own daughter and son-in-law, leaving the question of how parents are to handle their adult children. At what point should they step in to help, or just let go?
explores life's biggest reflective questions about choices, purpose, family, and will inspire much debate about actions taken, and even what choices the characters made beyond the book’s end. Meet Me at the Museum
Perfect for fans of
- (ancient/prehistoric) history/historical fiction
- life reassessment stories
- letter writing
- romantic dramas
- the movie "The Bridges of Madison County"
Anders, the curator, asked, “what is is that determines what lasts?” What made the Tollund man so well preserved? Why was Tina so fascinated by it? Why was the Tollund man so “big and beyond understanding everything [it] represent[ed].
What did Anders and Tina have in common? Why did she feel that “the cares of middle life made us ordinary”? Are there some who prefer that, and why?
When Tina went to Warham Hill Fort, a stranger named Marion approached her and told her about about the history of the place. How was this different from how a Danish person probably would have acted, according to Anders: “Most Danes, I believe, would have thought you were solitary because you chose to be, and would have respected that.”
How are modern people very “private” and “self-sufficient” in comparison with the people of ancient eras, particularly the Iron Age? Why, for a mother or grandmother then, would she probably have seen “each day a child lived as a battle won” instead of hoping, now, that for our children and grandchildren that “each day is an adventure for them”?
How did Anders’ wife “play the game of happy families with us, but we were toys, props to help her pretend to be like us”? How did that make his family members feel?
Why was the act of writing letters to each other for Anders and Tina so personal and beautiful? How was it also inconvenient?
Why did Tina, unlike her son Andrew, have difficulty in asserting her opinion, especially at home? What problems did this probably contribute to for her?
Why did Mary, Tina’s daughter, agree with Anders’ daughter Sarah about keeping the secret, but Vassily, Mary’s husband, disagree? What counterpoints did he bring up? What did Sarah eventually agree to do and why?
Why did Anders tell Tina the story of the Rag Man? What did it illustrate?
Why did Anders believe about a new piece of music, or Tina about poetry, that you have “to know a piece to be able to snatch pleasure from it in passing”? To what specific ones were they referring, and how did they get on the subject?
Why were Tina’s items in her house holding her back, weighing her down, and limiting how far she could travel? Why was it not this way for her husband? Where were Anders’ household objects for him?
What wonderful thing did Tina’s grandmother do as a memorial to the men who died in the First World War?
Is it a suitable New Year’s wish that “the year will bring no sorrow”? Why did Tina wish for that? Did it happen?
How had Anders “done a wrong thing that I believed to be right”? In such cases, what is our compass to help us choose right versus wrong? Was he right in comparing this to Tina’s battle with her own guilt?
Do you think Tina ever went to see the Tollund Man? If so, when?
Fresh Raspberry Muffins
Tina thought “another life might be like a second pass down the row of raspberry canes, there would be good things I had not come across in my first life, but I suspect I would find much of the fruit was already in my basket.” Raspberry picking, and especially a second pass through, became a powerful metaphor used repeatedly in Anders’ and Tina’s letters.
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, (or melted unsalted butter)
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or buttermilk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 6 oz fresh raspberries, (or frozen drained of excess liquid)
Fresh Raspberry Muffins
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Spray a cupcake tin with nonstick spray and add a pinch of flour to each tin. Shake liberally over a sink (may be a bit messy) or stir with a finger or tiny whisk. In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed using the paddle attachment, combine the oil and sugar for one minute. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking powder.
- To the mixer, add the heavy cream, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Combine for one more minute, then drop the speed to low and slowly add half the flour mix and allow to combine. Add the egg, allow to mix for about half a minute, then stop the mixer and scrape down the insides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the rest of the flour, slowly, and mix on low for another minute. Stop the mixer again to scoop any unmixed batter up from the bottom, and when there is no loose flour, mix on medium-low speed for one more minute.
- Stop the mixer, add the fresh raspberries (or frozen ones which have been allowed to drain of all the excess liquid) and fold in gently using a rubber spatula or large wooden spoon. Scoop into the tins, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean of batter, only crumbs or with nothing at all. Cool ten minutes before eating. Makes 1 dozen muffins.
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Other books about the Tollund Man include the very real book by Professor P. V. Glob The Bog People, the poem about him by Seamus Heaney in his book Wintering Out, and Tollund Man:Gift to the Gods by Christian Fischer.
The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society is another book written in the form of letters to and from a man and woman across an ocean; however, theirs is a story about a love of books, how they survived WWII, and the stories and a mystery involving practically the entire island of Guernsey, in the English Channel.
Other popular Danish novels include Silence in October by Jens Christian Grøndahl, One of Us Is Sleeping by Josefine Klougart, the most famous Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen, or you can read any of the many books about Hygge, the Danish concept of living simply and happily, with objects of comfort and purpose, especially candles and mood lighting.
Written by the author who gave us the bestseller A Man Called Ove, is about a wife who leaves her cheating husband in pursuit of her dreams, figuring out where she fits in, and finding a place for her own imagination. Britt-Marie Was Here
Another book about a woman reassessing her life’s choices and struggling to cope with the life she has chosen is A Line Made by Walking by the author Sara Baume.
“It must have occurred to you that what you thought would happen, when you were young, never did.”
“The cares of middle life made us ordinary.”
“Our letters have meant so much because we have both arrived at the same point in our lives. More behind us than ahead of us. Paths chosen that define us.”
“When I wake in the night and wonder if, after all, I have wasted my chances and should have done something different with the time and talents I have been given, I am often terrified by how small are the things I study and how big and beyond understanding everything they represent.”
“I have always loved the sky and I do not take notice of it often enough.”
“She is young enough to be relaxed about change.”
“It is not fair to burden children or grandchildren with the obligation to make us whole.”
“I have become clearer to myself as I made myself clearer to you. That has given me strength and courage.”
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Amanda Leitch