Troubador Edna's Death Cafe

Released: 05/09/2018

eISBN: 9781789011579

Format: eBook

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Edna's Death Cafe

Talking about death, celebrating life


As in life, death is not without its agenda. This is something seventy-nine year old Edna Reid finds out when her partner, Ted, suddenly dies.

To cope with her loss, she sets up a Death Cafe to break down the taboo around death and to encourage other members of the community to discuss it openly. Over tea and cake, the participants hide their fears behind a veil of dark humour.

Religious fanaticism clashes with Victorian spiritualism as Edna’s meetings trigger lively conversations on the fragility of life, anxiety over dying, cost of funerals, and making sure long-lost greedy relatives don’t benefit from inheritances.

Soon, a series of events begin to unfold which threaten to undermine Edna’s livelihood and the Death Cafe meetings. These events just happen to coincide with the arrival of a mysterious stranger into the village.

Who is she and why is she so hostile to Edna?

Edna's Death Cafe is now available from all good online retail outlets.


A witty, engaging and beautifully told story about a subject that we often shy away from - dealing with the realities of death. Despite the seemingly dark subject matter, it made me laugh out loud (OK, I snorted!), but also made me pause for thought. Highly recommended.

by Sara

We obviously have no possibility of preparing for our own birth but we rarely think about planning for our own death, only for fleeting moments when we come face to face with the loss of a friend or relative.
Angelena Boden's novel, based in a village in the Peak District is a sometimes hilarious, sometimes sombre take involving a collection of locals who, despite several reservations and scepticism eventually get involved when the owner of their local cafe, Edna, following a personal loss of a loved one decides to run a series of Death Cafe meetings.
Great characterisation and an entertaining read.

by Will Edwards

I thoroughly enjoyed Edna and, although a controversial subject, the author has written with great empathy and humour on the topic and in no way is it maudlin. The characters became very real and often endearing as their various stories unfolded. I was drawn in from the very beginning and just wanted to keep reading.
Life is short and we all tumble through as best we can. Edna, in her lovely steadfast and comforting way, tries to help make sense of its ending.

I feel this genre really suits the author's style and hope there are more to come.

by Maggie Harrison

From its engaging opening this book leads the reader straight into its world. The writing is colourful and the characters nuanced and well realised.

As in her previous novels, Angelena Boden shows herself particularly adept at finding the extraordinary in the ordinary: on the vividly described canvas of the Peak District her characters go about their daily lives, but those ordinary lives combine and interact to generate both tension and emotional involvement.

The 'mysterious stranger' provides a focus for the narrative, but it is the book's 'theme-and-variations' structure, with each Death Cafe meeting in its turn opening up discussions that challenge the reader as much as they test and expose the characters, that is its ultimate strength.

This is a well-written, cleverly structured novel and a very, very good read.

by Will H

I not only liked the idea but also the main character Edna and how she handled her loss. The many stories Edna and her customers are facing her with are sad and sometimes surprisingly entertaining even if not intended. :-) A nice idea perfectly perfectly transformed into good writing!

by Benjamin White

I enjoyed reading this book. It felt like something completely new to me, the death cafe is a great idea behind this novel.

by A D

I recommend this novel to fans of contemporary novels. It was well-written and interesting novel.

by Rachel Troyer

This is a really interesting and thought provoking read that helps readers consider their own preconceptions about how we deal with death in a light way. This has humour, an interesting mix of romantic and non romantic relationships and a breezy dialogue.

by Jen F

The concept of a cafe where people gather to discuss death was intriguing. This book isn't all dark and gloomy, there are bits of humor and insight found in this book. I enjoyed it and think others will as well..

by Rose Frum

The book drew me in from the first page until the last. Thanks for the advanced copy :-). I’ll definitely be looking out for more to come from this author!!!!!

by Reviewer

"It was the icecream that killed him."
How's that for an opening line?!

Edna's death cafe is a bit of a mystery, tucked inside a story, about the one unavoidable truth in life - death. Edna's partner Ted has just passed away and in order to deal with her grief she decides to start a death cafe.
In the midst of all the sometimes morbid, sometimes sweet meetings, some odd and slightly sinister things are happening around the village.

I have never heard of a death cafe before. The idea is interesting.
Death being a taboo subject, even though every one of us will have to deal with it at some point, I can see how a death cafe could be both intriguing and morbid, but also helpful.

Death is something we cannot escape. Each one of us will pass on, and taking some of the unknown out of it, gaining a little control in some way, being able to prepare, and try and help others through their losses, definitely has potential to make it a little less scary.

"We value life, because it is short. It gives us a kick up the backside to do what we need to do."

I enjoyed the majority of the characters - each a little broken, each searching for something to help the pain of loss. I especially liked that the main character is a septuagenarian; that does not happen often, and it was refreshing. The villain in this story is a good one too - easy to dislike, definitely a bit of a sociopath.
I also really enjoyed the setting - this quaint village has quite a lot of life considering its size, and the best part is the name; Hope.
But really, honestly, the intriguing part is the mystery. That is the bit that kept me in it.

There were a couple of things that snapped me out of the story a little. The pacing is a little bit off sometimes, with too much switching between characters to give snapshots of their lives.

The main character, Edna, has the majority of the narration. However, at least 6 other characters also get to narrate, making it a little confusing at times.
There is also a bit of confusion at the beginning, when all of the characters introduce themselves via dialogue.

Ultimately, is very easy to read. Some light hearted quips amoungst the heavy topics. A soft mystery you see coming but are still invested in.
And random wee gems like this: "Grief was a tumble dryer of emotions. You never knew that a pair of tights had strangled the life out of a best blouse until the door was opened."

by Yvette Cooke (via Netgalley)

Edna's Death Cafe is a book full of honesty, poignancy, beautiful writing and lashings of dark humour. I loved reading this book. Set in a sleepy village in the very heart of the Peak District, Ms Boden has managed to write a book about death and dying that is enlightening, funny and at times, sad. It's an entertaining, yet thought provoking read.

I'll be honest and say that I had never heard of a death cafe until I picked up this book. The title alone intrigued me and made me want to find out more. Death cafes are now becoming increasingly popular, and allow people to openly discuss death and dying while in a friendly cafe environment. I love this idea, and so does Edna, who starts her own following the death of her partner, Ted. By day, Edna runs the Happy Oatcake, no mean feat at seventy-nine, and then once a week she hosts her Death Cafe.

Edna is at the heart of this story. A sprightly elderly woman who is educated and who sees the absolute best in people. I loved her dearly. Although she sets up the death cafe to allow members of the small community to express their feelings and thoughts about death, ultimately it allows her to confront her own feelings, and gives her an outlet in which to talk about what is happening in her life. It's such a small village that everyone knows everyone else's business, and we constantly see Edna standing at her cafe door, watching the coming and going of the inhabitants in the nearby cottages.

This is a book laced with dark humour and it made me laugh I loved all of the wonderful characters. Ruth the religious fanatic, who I felt great empathy towards. Manny, Edna's long term friend who I would love as my friend, and Martine, the mysterious new villager from Canada. All of the villagers have their own unique stories to tell.

The novel weaves together stories of loss, while exploring fears about dying. What is so magical about this book, is that it made me question my own mortality. Made me think about the future. It also highlights that we should be able to talk about death in an open and frank way, that it needn't be a taboo. Edna shows us that. She's a remarkable lady. It's a remarkable book.

by Jo Worgan (via Netgalley)

A very unique look at talking about death. The death cage idea is brilliant and in this book you get to see a lot of what makes this author so good.

She writes passionately about Edna and what has went on in her life and what she attempts to do with her death meetings. People are misunderstanding as to what this is and this book will help you understand the idea of a support group.

It is well written with a solid group of characters. There is even a family secret almost conflict is better term as you try and piece together just what is happening.

Wonderful book and this is not my normal genre but it was so good.

by Sean Talbot

A very unique look at talking about death. The death cage idea is brilliant and in this book you get to see a lot of what makes this author so good.

She writes passionately about Edna and what has went on in her life and what she attempts to do with her death meetings. People are misunderstanding as to what this is and this book will help you understand the idea of a support group.

It is well written with a solid group of characters. There is even a family secret almost conflict is better term as you try and piece together just what is happening.

Wonderful book and this is not my normal genre but it was so good.

by Sean Talbot

There's a lot going for Edna's Death Cafe. The idea's lovely and some of the discussions that came out of it early in the book were interesting to read. The main character, Edna, is likeable, sympathetic, and above all things, compelling. It's also been a while since I've come across a book with a mystery without a murder, which was in itself was quite refreshing.

The dark humour that runs throughout contrasts nicely with the small village setting, stops it falling on the wrong side of cosy. Granted, that might not be the case for a lot people, but personally I do have a low threshold for that sort of thing.

Rather enjoyed this one.

by Kat Munro

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Edna's death cafe takes a very different look at death.

I would definitely recommend this book for its roundabout, humorous approach of looking at /talking about death.

by Shalini Banerjee

An entertaining read with a (suitable) smile around a subject we spend our lives avoiding. Edna lost Ted 13 weeks and two days ago. Ted who was the love of her life - her 'Teddy bear' as she called him. Struggling to cope with the grief she decides to open “The Happy Oatcake”, the cafe she owns and runs on a Wednesday evening as a Death Cafe. Free tea and cake and sympathy. A chance to talk through things with others in a similar situation. As Edna rightly says, death is one of life’s certainties but is a highly avoided topic.

I didn’t know that Death cafes were a “thing”. There is a death cafe movement “At a death cafe people often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death”. Our objective is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives. There are no agendas, objectives or themes, It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session. Do not, for a second, think that this book is morbid or negative- nothing could be further from the truth. Edna has everyone's best interest at heart a there is humour and a smile to be had. This is a lighthearted read albeit around serious topic. An interesting entertaining read.

by Nicki Murphy

The characters in this small English village embody the real-life struggles and range of attitudes people exhibit towards death (as well as their neighbors) with a plot that will keep you turning each new page: wondering whether your suspicions are correct, eager to learn how the story ends for everyone involved. Descriptions of the English countryside are vivid and evocative of character mood: “The call of the curlews in the distance tugged on a newly discovered sensitive part of him. As he stood on the muddy ridge, slats of rain driving into his eyes, he felt as though he was the only one in the universe who understood crippling loneliness.” And American readers (who thought they knew British English) will add new words to their vocabulary: Moggie, bacon bap, daft apeth, boiled sweet, potholer, compline, oatcake. I won’t give away the ending of the story, but it is fitting and satisfying.

by Independent Reviewer

I was really interested after reading the description of this ok and didn’t know what to expect. I was really pleasantly surprised! It is a book with a rather heavy subject - death and the ones we leave behind - but it handles the topic with compassion, grace and humor.

Every character in the book has a story and a reason to attend the death cafe. Each story is moving in its own way and is very relatable in the emotions the characters are feeling and grappling with. I had never heard of a “Death Cafe” before this book, but now I am interested in them and hope that one day I have a chance to attend one.

There’s a small “mystery” in the book, which adds another layer to the story - it’s not too intense and doesn’t take away anything from the main storyline, however. I enjoyed the bit of intrigue it added and was happy with how everything turned out.

Overall, I found this book very comforting and thought-provoking. It helps the reader see different sides of an issue and brings its characters and their struggles to life. I really enjoyed it!

by Ashley Gillan

Angelena Boden

Hi there,

Welcome to my author page. I'm Angelena, 64 years young and Edna's Death Cafe is my third novel. I've spent the past 35 years travelling the world, delivering training courses and designing personal development workshops for people who get stuck at different times of life.

The doggy picture is of Raffi, a dachshund- poodle cross. He's Head of Welfare in our household and keeps us all smiling and sane. He's my daughter's dog really but we borrow him a lot.

Talking of family, I have two grown-up daughters and the Old Man in the Shed. I'm a a free spirit and take off frequently to explore new places, new ideas and chat to new people about their views and experiences of life.

Authors can't afford to starve in attics these days or present themselves as pale and suffering. We're out and about doing talks and signing books so if you fancy having a light-hearted chat about death and dying following Edna's unique style or writing in general, get a group together in your home town or area and invite me along!

If you like cosy mystery with lots of intrigue, look out for my new novel Love Bytes Back, published by Matador on February 14th 2020.

Me being formal.

Raffi being cute.
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