Tuesday, 16 January 2018

FRED'S FUNERAL by Sandy Day @sandeetweets

4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Amazon.com
On Goodreads



How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie Amber's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

Genre: Family drama, history

Fred's Funeral is a long novella, beginning with the death of Fred Sadler, in 1986.  As he dies, his ghost floats up and observes his relatives at his bedside, and follows them to the funeral and back to his family home as they share their memories of him.  The book then dips back and forth between present and past, to his childhood in Jackson Point, near Toronto, to his horrific experiences in the First World War, to the many years afterwards when he was trying to find his feet.

Fred led a difficult life, always the outsider.  His family history is complicated, with many undercurrents, resentments and complex issues.  Little went right for him after WW1, which was, of course, closely followed by the Depression.  He suffered from shell shock for many, many years, but this was not understood in those days; his family tried to get him a disabled war veteran pension, or into a hospital for those who suffered with this malady, but they were to discover that the doctors were in cahoots with the military: if a patient was diagnosed with a different sort of mental illness, the War Office would not have to pay.

Fred is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and goes through much in the various hospitals he is sent to.

As Ghost Fred watches his family, he feels in turn angry, misunderstood, unloved and, occasionally, pleased by what he hears.  He was thought of as 'mad old Fred', and there is much in this book that is so sad; it made me want to find the younger man and make everything alright for him.  As the book dots about between times, I kept being lifted out of one era and put down in another but they fit together nicely, I became quickly engrossed in every snapshot of his life, and gradually the jigsaw fitted together.

The book is so readable and well written, and I enjoyed how the story built up, not only in Fred's life but from a sociological history point of view.  It's interesting (if frustrating) from the point of view of family wrangles, and builds such a tragic picture of the poor men caught up in the pointless carnage of WW1.  I really liked it.



10 comments:

  1. Goodness, how did I miss this? I love the sound of the book, Terry. Thanks

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    1. Yes, how did you?! I thought of you even as I was reading it!! I expect you've asked for it now :)

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  2. Thank you very much, Terry. I'm glad you enjoyed my book.

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    1. You're welcome; the pleasure was mine :)

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  3. What a great review of what sounds like a wonderful book! I felt emotional reading this.

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  4. Hi, I read this at #RBRT and thought Fred's Funeral sounded very interesting. I could relate to this because of a family member who was in the service who has recently passed. I always pictured him floating up and looking down on us while he pondered what everything meant. I really am interested in picking this up now, Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It's really good, April, I enjoyed it very much. Hope you get it!

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