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.
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