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THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF AN UNDERTAKER | BOOK REVIEW

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Book Review

Tom Eldwin (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)

Death affects us all and yet remains something rarely discussed with ease, and it maintains an air of mystery. Through this book, Tom Eldwin opens out this enigma by writing about his own experiences as a young Englishman moving to South Wales to become an undertaker.

Eldwin writes with great fondness for his profession but the narrative is not overly sentimental: it’s well balanced with humour for the more absurd aspects that go with the job. He encounters several hilarious characters and incidents, from the priest who forgot he was meant to be conducting a funeral and went shopping to the time a colleague almost took the wrong body (one that was still alive) away from a hospital ward.

The Welsh characters are certainly well-drawn and it’s easy to appreciate their role in informing Tom bach of the rights of passage in undertaking. Alongside the more light-hearted tales in the book, Eldwin includes moments of grief and compassion, such as dealing with suicide. It’s a revealing memoir and it’s interesting to realise just how much an undertaker has to cope with: it’s far more than wearing a dark suit and driving a hearse.

There some particularly entertaining and tongue-in-cheek sections of this book. At the end, Eldwin provides a list of songs for funerals, which includes classics like Living In A Box, Ashes To Ashes and (Don’t Fear) The Reaper. This is a successful collection of memories and anecdotes that are told in a wonderfully conversational way that records the trials and tribulations of those working in the world of death in equally sensitive and sensational measure. Dead good!

Price: £11.95. Info: www.amazon.co.uk

words LUCY MENON

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