A Tomb With a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards: Scottish Non-fiction Book of the Year 2021

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A Tomb With a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards: Scottish Non-fiction Book of the Year 2021

A Tomb With a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards: Scottish Non-fiction Book of the Year 2021

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This follows authour Peter Ross in which he goes finds out and ends up uncovering the stories of the graveyard. Ross’s journey takes him to all manner of places, but perhaps the one that speaks to us today is the most contemporary. He deals, too, with traditions of death and how we remember people, exploring Islamic burials, the natural death movement, the impending crisis as our cemeteries reach bursting point and much more, all with a genuine human curiousity and respect. Another interesting question posed by the author is how far should a cemetery go in bringing money-making schemes in places with the illustrious dead?

This shows the wealth of books about death, dying and the dead; you can spend years reading about these topics and never encounter a single place for burial. Peter Ross has been fascinated by graveyards since he was young, tracing the letters and symbols of tombstones in the Old Town Cemetery in Stirling, near his grandparents’ home and reading the slabs like ‘shelves full of stories’. Fascinating … Ross makes a likeably idiosyncratic guide and one finishes the book feeling strangely optimistic about the inevitable. I particularly found the war graves chapter very touching, and well written, along with the chapter on the woodland/meadow burials.Ross shares how the Muslim cemetery is a waiting room for heaven and looks different than what we might expect of a cemetery. His curiosity and interest in people shines through; you feel he really does want to know as much as is possible about the lives of the people who are buried in our cemeteries and what befell them. The grieving, the caretakers, the gravediggers and the guides are all given prominence in this volume, but nowhere more poignantly than in the story of Shane MacThomáis, the Dublin man who tended the tombs in Glasnevin Cemetery so diligently.

There are moments that feel like they have somewhat lost their way; for example, the section on the Troubles - though interesting, the writing felt slightly biased, and the opinions of the author felt forced into an irrelevant narrative.Highly recommended, this engaging book is most definitely a celebration of death and life and above all love. Ross takes us down a balanced path of love and remembrance, seeing life and death from all angles and leading us on a non-biased, compassionate journey. Peter Ross takes us on a tour of his favourite graveyards and introduces us to those who reside there, and, where temporally feasible, those who love them.

It’s genuinely a joy to read his work: I could quite happily have gone straight back to the beginning and started all over again. A lot of these segments could have been interesting in a publication on death in a more general sense, for instance discussing how we perceive it. Overall I enjoyed this book, given that graveyards are not something I know much about or am particularly passionate about - if such topics are your thing I think this would be an interesting read. Verdict: There are so many stories in this book, it is one I will be dipping in and out of for some time.

On Twitter someone described A Tomb With a View as a ‘conversation with a friend’, and I second this sentiment.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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