The Museum of Broken Promises as a title is instantly captivating, and even more so, when the reader discovers that, in the story, such a building exists. One begins to think and wonder about the person who instigated this museum, and why. What were the stories behind the exhibits that it contains? The train ticket, the baby teeth, the bridal veil….one can only imagine their history and past.
This story is so much more than the museum, however. It is a time slip story which moves from Paris to Prague and to Berlin. It is partly set during the time of the Communist rule in Czechoslovakia and is very informative of the horrendous conditions which were imposed on the population.
The main character is Laure, whose father was English and Mother French. She moved to Paris after her father’s death and was employed as an au pair for a Czech family living in Paris. Life is good here, but she is informed by the father that the family has to move to Prague, and they want her to accompany the children.
It is in Prague that the young woman discovers the horror and the restrictions of everyday life under such a devastating regime, where being followed is the norm, and suspicion is in the very air. As she is wandering around Laure discovers a puppet theatre.
All of the stories that are told could be seen to have a suspicious element, and what better way to encourage bravery and resistance than through puppet stories. There is also a very rebellious musician who Laure becomes involved with. She becomes aware of the dangers of this friendship after a violent confrontation.
Later in the story we find Laure back in Paris with enough money to buy an old building which she converts into the Museum. Her own exhibit is a train ticket, and at the end of the story the riddle of the ticket unfolds.
The story is well written, with wonderful descriptions of the sights and sounds, of both Prague and Paris. The atmosphere and tension are remarkably well crafted, as is the wonderful sense of freedom in Paris. The characters are complex and their behaviour almost understandable.
As for the actual museum, the concept is still a great idea and the ever-changing collections something to reflect upon.
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|