The Undertaker's Daughter () by

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Review by Anne

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars (4 from a possible 5)

Slightly morbid but fascinating

This memoir is about the author's family who lived in the same large house as the undertaker's business that her father ran. It takes place mainly in the 1960s and in a small town in rural America. The author follows the family's story until the death of her father with most of the narrative concerning the way in which they sought to live an ordinary life in an unusual setting.

Some of the book concerns what was done with bodies and the particularly American practice of making up the corpse and then displaying it to family and friends before burial. I have to say that I had a certain morbid fascination with this part of the book but the author always remembers in her telling of various tales that the people concerned are grieving and bereaved.

The other part of the book tells of the small town atmosphere and how her father, as an outsider, was opposed by other small businessmen and eventually lost a legacy that had been left to him by a local woman. This part of the book is important to know because it gives a context to the family story but the parts about the court cases and the legacy did take up too much of the book and seemed a bit like the author trying to put the case in a forum where it cannot be challenged.

Over all, however, this is a highly entertaining memoir, written with a keen observation. The upbringing which the author had was unusual and had particular challenges and is fascinating to read.

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