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A Trick I Learned from Dead Men

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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 lands a traineeship at their local funeral home and discovers there is life after death. 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 w 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 lands a traineeship at their local funeral home and discovers there is life after death. 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. But death is closer than Lee Hart thinks. Somewhere among the quiet lanes and sleepy farms something else is waiting. And it is closing in. Don't bring your work home with you, that's what they say. Too late. Sometimes sad, often hilarious and ultimately tragic and deeply moving, A Trick I Learned from Dead Men is a pitch perfect small masterpiece from a writer described by Richard Ford as having 'a moral grasp upon life that is grave, knowing, melancholy, often extremely funny and ultimately optimistic'.


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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 lands a traineeship at their local funeral home and discovers there is life after death. 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 w 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 lands a traineeship at their local funeral home and discovers there is life after death. 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. But death is closer than Lee Hart thinks. Somewhere among the quiet lanes and sleepy farms something else is waiting. And it is closing in. Don't bring your work home with you, that's what they say. Too late. Sometimes sad, often hilarious and ultimately tragic and deeply moving, A Trick I Learned from Dead Men is a pitch perfect small masterpiece from a writer described by Richard Ford as having 'a moral grasp upon life that is grave, knowing, melancholy, often extremely funny and ultimately optimistic'.

30 review for A Trick I Learned from Dead Men

  1. 5 out of 5

    Udai

    That was so beautiful. Just gloomy, poetic, and self-centered. It really stresses the fact that being around dead people for a long time makes death lose its value. I loved the writing style, the language, and the idea. I don't know how I stumbled upon this one but I would recommend it to anyone who wants to try something different.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Lately my reading has been stuck in the past. Books from the past, books about the past, books set in the past …. It’s the best way to escape from a world that is changing in ways I’m not entirely happy about. Sometimes though, a contemporary novel will pull me back to the present. I didn’t think of Kitty Aldridge as an author of contemporary novels, I thought of her as the author of two very good novels that I couldn’t quite put a label on. And now here’s a third. It belongs to Lee Hart, a twen Lately my reading has been stuck in the past. Books from the past, books about the past, books set in the past …. It’s the best way to escape from a world that is changing in ways I’m not entirely happy about. Sometimes though, a contemporary novel will pull me back to the present. I didn’t think of Kitty Aldridge as an author of contemporary novels, I thought of her as the author of two very good novels that I couldn’t quite put a label on. And now here’s a third. It belongs to Lee Hart, a twenty-four year old trainee funeral director. It is clear from the very first that Lee applies himself to his job, that having this role in life is important to him. “You knock first before you go in. You don’t wait of course. Good morning, Mr Gillespie. Lee here. Nice day. Everyone is known by their formal name: Mr, Mrs, Miss. We have not yet had a Lord or a Lady, but we had a Doctor and a Major. Babies and kiddies are their first name. Everyone is someone. They have status, the dead. Derek said that. It’s true, you’re somebody when you’re dead. you get respect.” As Lee recounted the details of his day, in a voice that rang so very true, a voice that I could hear in my head I began to build a picture of his life. His father had left a long time ago and his mother had died. Now he lived with Lester, his step-father, who had given up on life since he lost his wife. And with Ned, his brother, who was deaf and who hadn’t managed to find a way to deal with the world. They both infuriated Lee, but he understood too. Both relationships are simply and beautifully drawn. And utterly believable. Lee was the coper, the quiet optimist. A young man looking for his place in the world. He picked up expressions, mannerisms, habits from his older colleagues, because he wanted to root himself in their world, because their camaraderie was so important to him. I saw all of this as Lee went about his business, wondering which prepackaged lunch to pick from the array on offer, wondering how to make his exchanges with the girl from the florist’s shop grow in to a proper relationship. I would have found it impossible not to like him, in possible not to care. So much is conveyed in this little book, simply by having one character tell his story. It might sound depressing, and at one level it is, but Lee’s good nature, and his unspoken faith in the future pull his story towards the light. Even when things started to go wrong … It’s an accomplished piece of writing. But now I have reached the end I feel that I have met a character, read a simple story, and I wish that there could have been just a little more. Maybe a light could have been shone on stories of all of the employees of Shakespeare & Co, Funeral Directors – the ex-publican, the aspiring athlete, the driver with failing health … or maybe it’s right that I’m left to wonder about those other lives. Then again, I have to say that Lee deserved to tell his own story and to have it heard. And I do think that it was the right time for he and I to part company. I’m glad we met, and I’d like to think that one day he would be able to pause and realise that the faith he had in the future had been justified.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brie

    Unfinished due to the jerky, staccato writing style and the fact that the character and his story just couldn't engage my attention.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I got this as an audio book, and it’s beautifully read by Kristopher Milne. It’s written in first person as the voice of Lee Hart, a 25 year old living with his deaf brother Ned and stepfather Lester following the death of his mum. Lee is a trainee at a funeral home and it’s ironic that his life amongst the dead, with his motley collection of colleagues, and with occasional visits from pretty florist Laurel, have more light and humour than his gloomy home life. He escapes to the fields and woods I got this as an audio book, and it’s beautifully read by Kristopher Milne. It’s written in first person as the voice of Lee Hart, a 25 year old living with his deaf brother Ned and stepfather Lester following the death of his mum. Lee is a trainee at a funeral home and it’s ironic that his life amongst the dead, with his motley collection of colleagues, and with occasional visits from pretty florist Laurel, have more light and humour than his gloomy home life. He escapes to the fields and woods around the cottage, talking to the local crow and describing the land and sky. The writing is poetic, despite the quirky staccato style of Lee’s internal monologue. You can’t help but like him, respect to the deceased, his humour and also the way he looks after his dysfunctional brother and stepdad. He copes admirably with what goes on at home, older and wiser than his years, but his naivety shows as he tries to court Laurel. It’s a deeply tragic tale as Lee, Ned & Lester still grieve for his mum, mixed with warmth, the love of family, gentle humour and above all hope. Different and beautiful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt D

    I think the thing that gives this book its originality is also the thing that is most likely to turn people away: the narrators voice. His staccato speech made it hard for me to read for a prolonged period of time and his bad use of foreign words made him come off like a Del Boy parody.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    The voice of Lee Hart is as authentic as most in fiction. I wasn't bothered by any of the verbal tics Aldridge used to create his ("Lethal" to his friend, "Ravester") voice. I rather liked Lee's use of "Buenos Dias" and other foreign greetings to Crow when that bird deigned to show up near the unprepossessing cottage Lee lives in with his deaf younger brother and his depressed step-dad. It wasn't easy for Lee to have a conversation outside his work at the Funeral Directors, Shakespeare Ltd; even The voice of Lee Hart is as authentic as most in fiction. I wasn't bothered by any of the verbal tics Aldridge used to create his ("Lethal" to his friend, "Ravester") voice. I rather liked Lee's use of "Buenos Dias" and other foreign greetings to Crow when that bird deigned to show up near the unprepossessing cottage Lee lives in with his deaf younger brother and his depressed step-dad. It wasn't easy for Lee to have a conversation outside his work at the Funeral Directors, Shakespeare Ltd; even then it was mostly Derek (aka Del) his boss telling Lee what to do. The first half of the novel is leavened by amusing, sometimes hilarious dialogue, once again from Lee's work colleagues; they see the funny side! But his grief following his mother's death though unspoken is there; suggested by recurring images of her illness and decline. Unfortunately the book suffers from its own slightness. Many questions just remain unanswered. While I like brevity the story is not quite sufficiently well-developed or complex to be a really satisfying read. The end is surprising but too random to carry any weight. Kitty Aldridge has a deft touch with voice and her characters' humour is a fine thing in a novel, especially so in the setting. I would read more from Aldridge.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ulla

    This novel is, I daresay, unlike anything I've ever read before, written in a "style" that I'd never consider reading! And I could hardly put it down! It's tragic, almost heartbreakingly so, it's funny, clever . . . don't really have words to describe it. Read it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    An interesting voice and character sketch, but the plot seems clumsily tacked on in heavy handed bolts from the blue, and the whole thing drags a bit despite being very slight.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    I liked the concept and plot of this novel, but I found it rather morbid and some of the death jokes were in bad taste.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bekka

    I am a bit split between giving this 3 or 4 stars because it was written well, although first person and some are not a fan of that, I quite enjoyed it for a change. The story was a bit different as of written over a short amount of time but a lot happened in it. I enjoyed the main character he was relatable and you genuinely could feel love for him and sorry for him at other times. The way this is written is very touching and often gave me that harder to swallow feeling, both because it was wri I am a bit split between giving this 3 or 4 stars because it was written well, although first person and some are not a fan of that, I quite enjoyed it for a change. The story was a bit different as of written over a short amount of time but a lot happened in it. I enjoyed the main character he was relatable and you genuinely could feel love for him and sorry for him at other times. The way this is written is very touching and often gave me that harder to swallow feeling, both because it was written truly and also probably because the story with his mum getting cancer and passing away hit home. The way his brother, Ned, with learning disabilities was conveyed was both sweet and real; we all get annoyed with our siblings. But there were times when things got a little bit far fetched towards Ned as I don't think the main character Lee would have acted towards him compared to the rest of Lee's character development, as he was caring and loving and always stopped himself from lesser things towards non-family charactes of the book. I do however think the author was trying to convey how our minds change when we are under pressure and are not able to grieve but I don't think it was done too well in doing this to his character. I did however think she made the subtleness of Ned having depression and crying out in his own way quite well. As there were subtle hints at first then later extreme behaviours and this I have personally experienced as being true in LD individuals, often doing things in an extreme way normal people wouldn't. I honestly felt really sorry for Lee and Ned towards the end, and through iut this book you do catch the feelings of grief and trying to move forward. This story, being named what it is, I don't really feel personally that it was named right because I feel Lee's character would have been strong even if he worked somewhere else not just because of his dampened reactions because of working with dead people. The humour is well done if you like dark or morbid type humour, like myself (it's what made me pick up this book), but I do think some people may be unable to take that humour if they're quite sensitive towards death jokes as my partner didn't find the jokes too funny and he definitely doesn't have this type of humour. Also Lee's use of Spanish words is part of his jest I think it didn't personally annoy me I thought it was quite similar to some of my guy friends in the past speaking when they were that age too. Overall I enjoyed this book as a change but I wouldn't call it a favourite, I think the hype the book got previously wasn't really worth it as you could take it or leave it and I even thought about giving up half way through. But now I've finished the whole story, I'd say if there is a sequal where Lee gets on his feet again I'd read it just because I liked his character so much and wanted him to do well all a long.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I think this book lost a star out of bad luck, because I put it down for about a week through no fault of its own and it's not the kind of book that should be put down for that long. It's a novella, and it should be swallowed up so it can immediately take its emotional toll on you, like downing a drink. Then again, maybe that's fitting as this is a beautifully sad story about Lee's attempts to maintain good humour and take control of his world despite being the victim of significant disadvantage I think this book lost a star out of bad luck, because I put it down for about a week through no fault of its own and it's not the kind of book that should be put down for that long. It's a novella, and it should be swallowed up so it can immediately take its emotional toll on you, like downing a drink. Then again, maybe that's fitting as this is a beautifully sad story about Lee's attempts to maintain good humour and take control of his world despite being the victim of significant disadvantages - bad luck if you will. His consistent dusting himself down and then picking himself up again is admirable and heartbreaking.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Obstkuchen

    Twenty-five year old Lee Hart has been caring for his deaf brother and monosyllabic step-father since his mother's death 7 years earlier. Trapped in a remote cottage his only freedom is found in his work at a funeral home to which he is ideally suited. After work drinks with his best friend and romantic intentions towards the lovely florist are bright spots in his day but despite everything he remains upbeat and cheerful. Change comes and upsets his already precarious applecart. I liked Lee and a Twenty-five year old Lee Hart has been caring for his deaf brother and monosyllabic step-father since his mother's death 7 years earlier. Trapped in a remote cottage his only freedom is found in his work at a funeral home to which he is ideally suited. After work drinks with his best friend and romantic intentions towards the lovely florist are bright spots in his day but despite everything he remains upbeat and cheerful. Change comes and upsets his already precarious applecart. I liked Lee and as it is set close to my hometown I could really feel the landscape he inhabited. I was rooting for him all the way.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura Boakes

    6/10 : This was a quick & easy read, told from the perspective of Lee, a quiet chap, who we find out at the end is only 25, but for much of the narrative appears older. Lee works as trainee at a funeral home, surrounded by death, & sorrow, themes which follow him home. His mother has died, his step father has become a recluse & he has a complicated relationship with his deaf younger brother, Ned. It’s certainly not a happy storyline, but despite the morose plot, it manages to retain humour & wit 6/10 : This was a quick & easy read, told from the perspective of Lee, a quiet chap, who we find out at the end is only 25, but for much of the narrative appears older. Lee works as trainee at a funeral home, surrounded by death, & sorrow, themes which follow him home. His mother has died, his step father has become a recluse & he has a complicated relationship with his deaf younger brother, Ned. It’s certainly not a happy storyline, but despite the morose plot, it manages to retain humour & wit in places. The characters were as simple as the quiet lives they lead, but I thought the writing was beautiful, & thoughtfully done.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Juliet Wilson

    Lee Hart and his deaf brother Ned are left alone when their father disappears and their mother dies. Things start to turn around when Lee gets an apprenticeship at the local funeral parlour and falls for a beautiful florist. Lee has a very close relationship with nature, particularly a carrion crow that he considers a friend: 'Crow sits on the telegraph pole by the old post office. He waits there like a chess piece. Crow thinks he's an eagle, you would at those heights. He steps off, casual, ska Lee Hart and his deaf brother Ned are left alone when their father disappears and their mother dies. Things start to turn around when Lee gets an apprenticeship at the local funeral parlour and falls for a beautiful florist. Lee has a very close relationship with nature, particularly a carrion crow that he considers a friend: 'Crow sits on the telegraph pole by the old post office. He waits there like a chess piece. Crow thinks he's an eagle, you would at those heights. He steps off, casual, skateboarding, wheels, lands on a No Parking sign.' It's a moving story, of lovel, loss and family with engaging characters and a nice sense of humour to balance out the sadness.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    A bit different to types of books i have read before, but i enjoyed its quirky style. Main character works in a funeral directors so you wld think wld be morbid, but it isnt. Makes you stop and take stock of what around you and appreciate things more, because death is one thing we cant get away from. My favourite line from the book - 'the future stands behind you, waiting to say boo'. I would recommend this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Harvey

    Quiet little gem of a quirky book focusing an a young trainee undertaker grappling with the loss of his Mum, the sloth of his stepfather, the responsibility for his deaf and challenging younger brother and unrequited love. A poignant little piece, written in a staccato style to characterise the central characters unfinished thoughts, his reticence, his lack of confidence. For me, this was a charming and touching book

  17. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    A short and enjoyable read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    JudithAnn

    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 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.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    Mini-review originally posted on Nightjar's Jar of Books.Lee Hart’s mother is dead. Cancer. And his stepfather Lester has retreated from the world and now only interacts with the television. And his deaf brother Ned refuses to get a job. It’s a good thing Lee has his job at the funeral home to support the three of them (and visits from the beautiful Lorelle to look forward to); but even that might be in jeopardy soon…My problem with this book: It’s really misleading. The synopsis and the blurbs Mini-review originally posted on Nightjar's Jar of Books.Lee Hart’s mother is dead. Cancer. And his stepfather Lester has retreated from the world and now only interacts with the television. And his deaf brother Ned refuses to get a job. It’s a good thing Lee has his job at the funeral home to support the three of them (and visits from the beautiful Lorelle to look forward to); but even that might be in jeopardy soon…My problem with this book: It’s really misleading. The synopsis and the blurbs all promised humour (if dark) and poignant writing, and some kind of light at the end of the tunnel (which I guess there was, but only really as an afterthought), and the book just didn’t deliver on any of those things. Granted, humour is subjective, so this probably wasn’t the right kind of humour for me, but there’s no excuse for the rest…My other problem with this book: The characters. I usually like character-driven stories, but I wasn’t able to connect with any of the main characters. I certainly felt sorry for Lee – stuck caring for a family who were entirely reliant upon him, but didn’t seem to value him at all – but I yo-yoed between liking him (very occasionally) and finding him irritating (more often). Ned and Lester (and even Lorelle) were both incredibly frustrating, and while the team at the funeral home (or rather, Derek) were reasonably likeable, they didn’t appear nearly often enough to balance out the rest of the cast.All that said, I can’t say that I disliked this book, exactly; I just didn’t care about it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lorna

    A Trick I Learned From Dead Men turned out to be a difficult book for me to rate: the writing style was both confusing at times, and at others it flowed and read almost like a poem - although having said all that, it didn't take me very long to finish at all; there were some scenes that I felt were unnecessary, perhaps, and didn't add to the plot at all, and there were other scenes that were quite powerful and thought-provoking. Overall, I enjoyed this book - if enjoyed is the right word for it. A Trick I Learned From Dead Men turned out to be a difficult book for me to rate: the writing style was both confusing at times, and at others it flowed and read almost like a poem - although having said all that, it didn't take me very long to finish at all; there were some scenes that I felt were unnecessary, perhaps, and didn't add to the plot at all, and there were other scenes that were quite powerful and thought-provoking. Overall, I enjoyed this book - if enjoyed is the right word for it. I thought the characters were very believable, and I wouldn't have guessed that it was a woman writing from a man's point of view as it felt so true. She was able to make me feel for him, and for his brother as well. Equally, I enjoyed her descriptions of the little world they live in: the house, and the field and the woods: it was all so clear in my head. And though the subject matter could have been depressing, the little sparks of dark humour kept it from heading down that road, and actually made me chuckle out-loud on occasion. So I'm giving this book four stars - and it could have been five, perhaps, were it not for the slightly confusing writing style (especially at the beginning of the book, as it gets better the longer you read), and those occasional scenes that felt quite jarring and out of place. A Trick I Learned From Dead Men is certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I would definitely recommend it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen Pine

    Kitty Aldridge writes boldly and eloquently from the POV of Lee, a 25 year-old struggling to make it as a trainee undertaker while caring for his deaf younger brother and depressed stepfather. The book explores how we deal with death; that's death as a business and death as personal tragedy. The book is funny and achingly sad in places, and Aldridge combines the tragi-comic with beautiful aplomb. This is exemplified in this great passage where Lee is reflecting on the death of his mother from ca Kitty Aldridge writes boldly and eloquently from the POV of Lee, a 25 year-old struggling to make it as a trainee undertaker while caring for his deaf younger brother and depressed stepfather. The book explores how we deal with death; that's death as a business and death as personal tragedy. The book is funny and achingly sad in places, and Aldridge combines the tragi-comic with beautiful aplomb. This is exemplified in this great passage where Lee is reflecting on the death of his mother from cancer: "She doesn't die in my arms, as I'd imagined. She is restless for a while, then goes still. This is new. The lady who comes from the cancer charity has a word for it: Acceptance. She has a word for everything, or a pamphlet, or a list. We don't argue with her, we nod. We speak fluent leaflet and pamphlet. We take them politely, as if this will help. We listen, nod, agree, accept. We plod on, reading leaflets, boiling the kettle, waiting..... Is it the end? We don't know. Is she dying. Cancer charity lady says she is. There is a word for it: Departure." I found this so funny. The idea that death causes everyone to slip into pamphlet-speak. The notion of nobody arguing with the cancer charity lady. The absurd idea that a 'leaflet' could help. And there being 'a word' for everything at the end that is unmentionable.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paul Trembling

    Three stars seems a little mean for this book. It is, after all, skilfully written. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the main characters life is powerfully evoked, and it leads up to a painfully poignant ending. But, in all honest, I can't say I loved it (five stars) or even really liked it (four stars). In fact, I'm pushing things a bit to say that I liked it at all! The style I found particularly difficult. Though I appreciate the skill and hard work it must have taken to create and maintain t Three stars seems a little mean for this book. It is, after all, skilfully written. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the main characters life is powerfully evoked, and it leads up to a painfully poignant ending. But, in all honest, I can't say I loved it (five stars) or even really liked it (four stars). In fact, I'm pushing things a bit to say that I liked it at all! The style I found particularly difficult. Though I appreciate the skill and hard work it must have taken to create and maintain the main characters distinctive voice throughout, it wasn't one I could enjoy reading, and in fact it eventually became irritating. And though the slow revealing of the characters sad history is very well done, it failed to really capture my attention. When you find yourself wishing it would get to the point, you know that you and the story have lost touch. True, there is a certain element of mystery woven into the narrative - the mysterious blonde man who chased a girl down the country lane - but it's so understated that it totally failed to generate any suspense, and the final therefore lacked much impact. If you value atmosphere above all else, then this will probably press your buttons, but it didn't work for me. I respect it, but I couldn't love it. (Library book).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I had really expected quite a lot from this book, but I actually found it quite disappointing. The story itself wasn't that earth-shattering, although I am aware that that wasn't the point. It is the story of Lee Hart, a trainee undertaker who lives with his deaf brother and his step-father. His mother has died from cancer and he is now the only bread-winner as well as the person who does everything around the house. And that is about as far as it goes. He likes a girl, he goes to the pub, he go I had really expected quite a lot from this book, but I actually found it quite disappointing. The story itself wasn't that earth-shattering, although I am aware that that wasn't the point. It is the story of Lee Hart, a trainee undertaker who lives with his deaf brother and his step-father. His mother has died from cancer and he is now the only bread-winner as well as the person who does everything around the house. And that is about as far as it goes. He likes a girl, he goes to the pub, he goes to work. I found I got very annoyed at the way Lee spoke. It is written in the first person, but the constant repetition of "per se," "buongiorno," "as per," "c'est la vie" and so on really grated. I understand he is a 25 year old man who tries to put on a bit of a show, but it was too much for me. Fortunately, it was a short book, but even so I grew tired of it. I know the story wasn't supposed to go anywhere, but it actually got a bit dull. The ending was very sad, but I was glad to get to it. I think the problem was I had been told the book was fantastic, so I was underwhelmed by it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    I gave this book 4* although for the first 50 pages or so I wasn't really sure and didn't think I'd carry on. The novel is only just over 200 pages though, so why not give it a little more time? Aldriged's writing style is something I've not come across before and took some getting used to. Once over the hurdle of our narrator, Lee and his turn of phrase, the novel is a good one. The tale is not a happy jaunt in the lives of brothers and doesn't end on a good note. Ned is deaf and has been from ne I gave this book 4* although for the first 50 pages or so I wasn't really sure and didn't think I'd carry on. The novel is only just over 200 pages though, so why not give it a little more time? Aldriged's writing style is something I've not come across before and took some getting used to. Once over the hurdle of our narrator, Lee and his turn of phrase, the novel is a good one. The tale is not a happy jaunt in the lives of brothers and doesn't end on a good note. Ned is deaf and has been from near birth and Lee the elder brother is not what you would call socially skilled. They spend a lot of time calling each other 'Knobhead' and trying to survive without help from anybody else. Lee holds down a full time job at one of the local funeral directors whilst cooking and cleaning for his brother, Ned and their stepfather, Lester. Lester went into himself after the boy's Mother died from Breast Cancer. Now Lester just watches day time TV and won't give up the remote control to anybody. I finished the book thinking differently about the writing style of Aldridge and although it was decidedly different, I will try her other novels sometime.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris Morton

    I really enjoyed this book, but with one big proviso. I felt the narrator’s voice was always compelling and likeable, often funny. Lee Hart seems determined to make the best out of his very unlucky situation. He takes an apprenticeship at the local undertakers and the story is based around his relationship with the dead bodies and his fellow co-workers. His love-interest inevitably fails, redundancy seems to be looming and he is little more than a cook and cleaner to his deaf brother and depressed I really enjoyed this book, but with one big proviso. I felt the narrator’s voice was always compelling and likeable, often funny. Lee Hart seems determined to make the best out of his very unlucky situation. He takes an apprenticeship at the local undertakers and the story is based around his relationship with the dead bodies and his fellow co-workers. His love-interest inevitably fails, redundancy seems to be looming and he is little more than a cook and cleaner to his deaf brother and depressed step-father. Lee certainly has his darker moments when thoughts turn to violence but his attempts to woo Lorelle provide plenty of humour. In my view Aldridge has got the lead character spot on and she has clearly done some intensive research into the undertaker’s profession. The big let-down for me was the Epilogue. What had previously been a detailed, realistic, earth-bound tale suddenly slipped into a ‘Hollywood style’ happy ending. I could appreciate the development and progression of the rest of the story but he Epilogue seemed like a complete cop-out. After a tale of gritty struggle suddenly everything ends happily – it is so out of keeping with the rest of the book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    KateKing58

    A thing I learned from this book was never to take book recommendations from Mariella Frostrup. This review will contain spoilers. I read this book because Mariella Frostrup had suggested it as good read for someone coming to terms with bereavement. I could use some help in that regard. This book just annoyed me. Some good things about it - a good depiction of funeral directors as business and service, showing their respect to clients living and dead; some quirky touches like the boys stepping out A thing I learned from this book was never to take book recommendations from Mariella Frostrup. This review will contain spoilers. I read this book because Mariella Frostrup had suggested it as good read for someone coming to terms with bereavement. I could use some help in that regard. This book just annoyed me. Some good things about it - a good depiction of funeral directors as business and service, showing their respect to clients living and dead; some quirky touches like the boys stepping out of the bedroom window onto a trampoline rather than use the stairs (probably not actually a safe thing to do). Some bad things - the narrator's inner dialogue that makes him sound like a bad "Last of the Summer Wine" parody; anti-medicine sentiments; "gamer" attitudes to women; a complete failure to show any emotional depth to the characters, so that the younger brother's suicide is just another inexplicable event rather than a moment of tragedy. The "trick", by the way, is to need nothing and be patient. Which may be appropriate in some circumstances, but if something is badly wrong better advice might be to be demanding and take action.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    A British deadpan comical working-class Pushing Six Feet of Daisies will probably tell you whether this will be your bag. It's very much mine -- I cracked up, teared up, smiled in pained recognition....I found Lee's narrative tics charming and loved Aldridge's knowing way with cliché and the truncated cobbled-together rhythms of real speech (and text-speak, gawd the text-speak -- LOL.) A representative quote: "Because there is a style of walk and talk in my line of work that you must perfect if y A British deadpan comical working-class Pushing Six Feet of Daisies will probably tell you whether this will be your bag. It's very much mine -- I cracked up, teared up, smiled in pained recognition....I found Lee's narrative tics charming and loved Aldridge's knowing way with cliché and the truncated cobbled-together rhythms of real speech (and text-speak, gawd the text-speak -- LOL.) A representative quote: "Because there is a style of walk and talk in my line of work that you must perfect if you want to get on. The talk is one thing, slow and soft, as if someone has died, which they have. The walk is another kettle of fish. The walk must be supervisory, sober, but light-footed. Eggshells we call it. Remember, you are not Dracula, Derek says. You learn to walk on eggshells without coming across as a ponce....Then you have to get the voice right. If you are not posh by birth, and no funeral directors are, then you have to learn to speak toffee...People want death to be posh, nice and smart, even though, of all the things we do, it is the most common."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ailsa

    Farming is no life, she told us. She wanted our lives to light up under our feet, like the yellow brick road. The world is your oyster, she said. You had to believe, belief was everything. She believed, we believed. The circus had packed up and gone but we stood there still, clapping, believing. A roll of the dice. You hope for sixes, everyone does. Sixes are rare, that's all. This is the story of Lee, his family, and how people cope with death. The story itself isn't anything particularly novel, Farming is no life, she told us. She wanted our lives to light up under our feet, like the yellow brick road. The world is your oyster, she said. You had to believe, belief was everything. She believed, we believed. The circus had packed up and gone but we stood there still, clapping, believing. A roll of the dice. You hope for sixes, everyone does. Sixes are rare, that's all. This is the story of Lee, his family, and how people cope with death. The story itself isn't anything particularly novel, but the style it's told in is so unusual that it's hard not to fall in love with this book just for the way it's narrated. For one thing, I didn't even recognise that there weren't any quotation marks until I was more than half way through. That's a technique that usually irritates the crap out of me, but it fit the story so well that it didn't bother me at all. The writing was a glorious chaos of unfinished thought, the characters were all fresh and written sharply. It's great, in an understated, lovely, melancholy sort of way.

  29. 5 out of 5

    El

    I'd guess that this book is one that people are either going to love or hate. I loved it. It's hard to describe its genre. It contains themes of love, hate, death, life, relationships, awareness, discovery - and (funeral) undertaking. And more. A trainee undertaker, Lee, whose mother has recently died and who now lives with his deaf brother, Ned, and his (unloved) stepfather, Les, leads us through his daily life. And that is it. But what we discover on this journey is revealing. I was very impre I'd guess that this book is one that people are either going to love or hate. I loved it. It's hard to describe its genre. It contains themes of love, hate, death, life, relationships, awareness, discovery - and (funeral) undertaking. And more. A trainee undertaker, Lee, whose mother has recently died and who now lives with his deaf brother, Ned, and his (unloved) stepfather, Les, leads us through his daily life. And that is it. But what we discover on this journey is revealing. I was very impressed with the voice of the narrator, Lee, which was consistent throughout. I cringed at his lack of understanding of the woman he adored but understood his feelings around his brother, Ned. It lost a star because I didn't like the Epilogue which I felt wasn't necessary. The story should have been left where it naturally ended. But maybe that was because I hoped for a sequel? To say more would spoil the book for those who haven't yet read it so all I will say is, Get hold of a copy and see what you think. Love or hate?!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    This is quite a short book, I read it in one day. The author has clearly taken a lot of time and effort to research her subject thoroughly. The book is the bittersweet story of Lee Hart trainee funeral director and the day to day problems he faces in his life. Lee is a carer for his deaf brother and disabled stepfather, his mother is dead. He is spurned in love but he finds solace in his work and the pride he takes in his position at the undertakers. Your heart goes out to Lee, he is a likeable This is quite a short book, I read it in one day. The author has clearly taken a lot of time and effort to research her subject thoroughly. The book is the bittersweet story of Lee Hart trainee funeral director and the day to day problems he faces in his life. Lee is a carer for his deaf brother and disabled stepfather, his mother is dead. He is spurned in love but he finds solace in his work and the pride he takes in his position at the undertakers. Your heart goes out to Lee, he is a likeable character trying desperately to find an anchor in this world and make his way. The book is well written in short punchy sentences, and you feel Lee's voice is really connecting with you. A good quick read.

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