I discovered Kate Atkinson through her second novel, _Human Croquet_. I quite enjoyed it, but it was my 13-yr-old daughter who liked it so much that she later picked up Atkinson's debut novel about Ruby Lennox and her far-flung family. My kid has solid instincts!
Both novels explore dysfunctional families through the eyes of the children stranded in those families. Both narratives are marked by sudden chronological shifts and reveal information that the narrators realistically don't have access to; through this device Atkinson raises interesting questions about the nature of memory, of time, of family itself.
I think _Behind the Scenes... is the better book. Certainly it is more consistent in tone, very funny, but with the humor of a survivor, looking back over years of neglect, emotional abuse, deceit, outright tragedy, and, above all, years of (almost) unremitting bleakness. The characters are well drawn, and even the most repugnant of them is worthy of some sympathy. That Atkinson can relate all this and make it so incredibly readable is a testament to her talent. Although I occasionally found her sentence structure irksome, that is a minor quibble, especially when one considers the images she is able to create in just a few words, as when Ruby is trying to reconcile her idea of what love is with the "autistic motherhood" of Bunty. Ruby has been talking about her mother off and on for several hundred pages, but this phrase, in the last few pages of the novel, sums up perfectly that part of Bunty's character that was most important to Ruby.
A good read; I recommend it.