Through ten decades and across three continents, The Ash Museum is an intergenerational story of loss, migration and the search for somewhere to feel at home.
1944. The Battle of Kohima. James Ash dies leaving behind two families: his 'wife' Josmi and two children, Jay and Molly, and his parents and sister in England who know nothing about his Indian family.
2012. Emmie is raising her own daughter, Jasmine, in a world she wants to be very different from the racist England of her childhood. Her father, Jay, doesn't even have a photograph of the mother he lost and still refuses to discuss his life in India. Emmie finds comfort in the local museum - a treasure trove of another family's stories and artefacts.
Little does Emmie know that with each generation, her own story holds secrets and fascinations that she could only dream of.
'In her luminous fourth novel, Rebecca Smith has managed to distil ten decades of a fractured family history into a resonant and tightly woven structure that takes us on an extraordinary journey. It is a memory bank of treasures and as much a moving story about the legacy of Colonialism as it is a reflection on contemporary life and values. Her wonderful perspectives and closely observed (and often, very funny) details about those lives, past and present, are a triumph.' Christie Hickman, Books Editor, S Magazine
'A beautifully written, multi-generational tale full of poignant themes, vibrant setting packed with observation and characters you will want to be friends with.' Ella Dove, novelist and Commissioning Editor at Good Housekeeping, Prima and Red magazines
'What a fabulous new novel from a brilliant writer. Spinning through time and space, The Ash Museum is another country, filled with lively, emotional set-pieces, turned like physical memories from one generation to another. Endlessly exciting in its filmic, short, sharp scenes, grippingly narrative in its interwoven tales of loss and identity and home, Rebecca Smith's book demonstrates, yet again, her gift for vivid humour and deep empathy, all stirred up in her trademark scintillating prose.' Philip Hoare, winner of the 2009 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction
'A timely and acutely observed novel about family and the circle of life. Touching, universal and utterly relatable, as we all search for our own view just like Jay did.' Carmel Harrington, author of My Pear-Shaped Life, A Thousand Roads Home
Rebecca Smith was born in London and grew up in rural Surrey. From 2009 - 2010 she was the writer in residence at Jane Austen's House in Chawton, Hampshire. The Ash Museum was inspired by her time there and by being left hundreds of old family photographs and letters.