About Edna's Death Cafe
As in life, death is not without its agenda. This is something seventy-nine year old Edna Reid finds out when her partner, Ted, suddenly dies.
To cope with her loss, she sets up a Death Cafe to break down the taboo around death and to encourage other members of the community to discuss it openly. Over tea and cake, the participants hide their fears behind a veil of dark humour.
Religious fanaticism clashes with Victorian spiritualism as Edna’s meetings trigger lively conversations on the fragility of life, anxiety over dying, cost of funerals, and making sure long-lost greedy relatives don’t benefit from inheritances.
Soon, a series of events begin to unfold which threaten to undermine Edna’s livelihood and the Death Cafe meetings. These events just happen to coincide with the arrival of a mysterious stranger into the village.
Who is she and why is she so hostile to Edna?
My review of Edna's Death Cafe
Edna's Death Cafe is a book full of honesty, poignancy, beautiful writing and lashings of dark humour. I loved reading this book. Set in a sleepy village in the very heart of the Peak District, Ms Boden has managed to write a book about death and dying that is enlightening, funny and at times, sad. It's an entertaining, yet thought provoking read.
I'll be honest and say that I had never heard of a death cafe until I picked up this book. The title alone intrigued me and made me want to find out more. Death cafes are now becoming increasingly popular, and allow people to openly discuss death and dying while in a friendly cafe environment. I love this idea, and so does Edna, who starts her own following the death of her partner, Ted. By day, Edna runs the Happy Oatcake, no mean feat at seventy-nine, and then once a week she hosts her Death Cafe.
Edna is at the heart of this story. A sprightly elderly woman who is educated and who sees the absolute best in people. I loved her dearly. Although she sets up the death cafe to allow members of the small community to express their feelings and thoughts about death, ultimately it allows her to confront her own feelings, and gives her an outlet in which to talk about what is happening in her life. It's such a small village that everyone knows everyone else's business, and we constantly see Edna standing at her cafe door, watching the coming and going of the inhabitants in the nearby cottages.
This is a book laced with dark humour and it made me laugh I loved all of the wonderful characters. Ruth the religious fanatic, who I felt great empathy towards. Manny, Edna's long term friend who I would love as my friend, and Martine, the mysterious new villager from Canada. All of the villagers have their own unique stories to tell.
The novel weaves together stories of loss, while exploring fears about dying. What is so magical about this book, is that it made me question my own mortality. Made me think about the future. It also highlights that we should be able to talk about death in an open and frank way, that it needn't be a taboo. Edna shows us that. She's a remarkable lady. It's a remarkable book.
With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.
Edna's Death Cafe was published on 3 September by Matador.