Book Review: A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge
May 26, 2013 14 Comments
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