Book Review: A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge

A Trick I Learned from Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge

A Trick I Learned From Dead Men: What it is about

From the publishers: “Longlisted for the Womens Prize for Fiction 2013.

After the disappearance of their father and the sudden death of their mother, Lee Hart and his deaf brother, Ned, imagine all is lost until Lee starts an apprenticeship at the local funeral home. Here, in the company of a crooning ex-publican, a closet pole vaulter, a terminally-ill hearse driver, and the dead of their local town, old wounds begin to heal and love arrives as a beautiful florist aboard a ‘Fleurtations’ delivery van, and Lee discovers there is life after death after all.”

A Trick I Learned From Dead Men: What I thought

I loved this book! It’s written rather quirkily and I really felt I got to know Lee, the main character, rather well. He’s a 25 year old man who takes pride in his job as an assistant in a funeral home. All is very well organised and he keeps carefully to the rules. How different life is at home, where both his step-father and his deaf brother do very little at all, and Lee takes it upon him to keep some kind of normality going.

Lee doesn’t always finish his sentences. Sometimes it’s just obvious what he means, so why bother? So he says “Derek wouldn’t ask that in a million.” (of course meaning, “a million years”). The book is full of these unfinished sentences. Instead of being irritating, it’s fun and it somehow makes Lee into a more tangible character.

Lee has a stiff-upper-lip attitude: whatever goes wrong, you don’t break down, you just keep going. He’s in love (or at least, like) with the delivery woman from the florist’s, Lorelle. At one point she tries to get him to take her out for dinner, in a very subtle way. I thought he didn’t understand, but later on, it becomes clear he just doesn’t have the money (yet- he’s saving up!).

Poor Lee is stuck in difficult circumstances with nothing going for him but at least a job that he loves. Sometimes Lee describes some of his work in the funeral home in too much detail to be comfortable (for the reader), but it shows how he has adapted to the routines of the funeral home.

There isn’t a lot of plot development in the story, but that is not necessary – Lee’s way of narrating the story almost is enough by itself to enjoy this lovely short novel.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Number of pages: 224

First published: 2012 (July 2013: UK Paperback edition)

I got this: from the publishers via Netgalley (ebook)

Genre: contemporary fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

14 Responses to Book Review: A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge

  1. Rikki says:

    Sounds like an interesting book actually, even though a funeral home wouldn’t be my go to place. Love the name of the flower shop.

  2. Sounds interesting – bit quirky and different.

  3. Joanna says:

    This sounds like a great read. It’s going on my list.

  4. It sounds great. I will have to read this, some time.

  5. Melinda says:

    Sounds great

  6. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    Onto my wish list it goes!

  7. Marie says:

    This sounds very sweet, like it would maybe be a nice holiday read. I will remember the title for when I’m in the mood for something like that.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Marie, it’s not a sweet book, really. It’s definitely a literary read and not too happy either. So, you *could* read it on holiday but it’s not a typical holiday read.

  8. You enjoyed this one more than I did. I loved the insight into the funeral home (although some bits were eye openingly gruesome) but I wanted the plot to be more complicated. Glad you enjoyed it!

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