My Treasured Possessions

Posted on 16th June 2016 by Sally Campbell
In keeping with the themes of her second novel The Museum of You, Carys Bray has curated a museum of her; here is a list of her six most treasured possessions. Introduced by Waterstones Online's Sally Campbell
Carys Bray’s first novel, A Song For Issy Bradley, was a compassionate tale of grief and faith. Shortlisted for both the Costa Book Awards and the Desmond Elliot Prize, the novel won the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and was serialised for BBC Radio Four's Book at Bedtime.

Her second novel, The Museum Of You, tells the story of young girl Clover Quinn’s touching yet tragic search to understand the parent she has lost. Clover scours the second bedroom intent on unearthing clues and archiving information to flesh out the mere silhouette she knows of her mother.

‘Carys Bray's words are filled with the most incredible tenderness and wisdom, and every character is so rich, they each become a story in their own right. The Museum of You is beautiful and clever, and honest. I loved every moment of it’ Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep.


Possession 1


Desktop affirmations for cynics. I find motivational quotes really embarrassing. I’d much rather snigger at misanthropy, so when I saw this in a bookshop I fell in love. The affirmations say things like:

“The best years of my life are over. They weren’t exactly good years, but nonetheless, they are over.”

“Today I will remind myself that my friends and family are just waiting for me to fail.”

“Today I will start a project only so I can later abandon it because of my perfectionist standards.”

Sometimes my children change the page for me (they usually pick the one about filling your inner wasteland with chocolate).


Possession 2


A painting my daughter did when she was little. It makes me smile. I like the colour of the sky and the strange shape of the treetop. I’m particularly fond of the resignation of the kite owner – she’s not even reaching for her disappearing kite. My daughter is a bit of an Eeyore and I love the way you can see it in this painting.


Possession 3


A ceramic bird brooch made by Rhian Winslade. I love handmade things. I like the thought that someone has put time and effort into making something beautiful, especially if it’s something I could never hope to make myself..


Possession 4



A polaroid of my second child, taken when she was about an hour old, moments before she was transferred by ambulance to Poole Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. At the time I felt quite dismissive of the picture; I didn’t think it looked very much like her – she was, to my mind, much lovelier. It’s the only photograph I have where she is breathing on her own, and it’s how she will always, always look; a fact that many years later still occasionally seems perplexing. She died four days later.


Possession 5



When I was a little girl my grandmother had a cuckoo clock on her dining room wall. I didn’t know anyone else with a cuckoo clock. I thought it was incredibly posh. I remember sitting at the table, waiting for the little bird to jump out and sing. It’s one of those childhood memories that is accompanied by a smell and a taste: furniture polish and garden peas. A couple of years ago my husband bought me my own cuckoo clock for Christmas. When I saw the German writing on the box I thought he’d bought me a job lot of lebkuchen and I was doing my best to look really pleased as I opened the lid. In the end I didn’t have to pretend.


Possession 6



A painting by Nicole R. Pantano. In a sense it is part sculpture, but it’s made entirely of paint. It hangs on the red wall in my bedroom where it looks like a spray of roses. It’s another beautiful handmade artefact I could never hope to replicate.


The Museum of You is out in hardback now.


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