#BookReview Fred’s Funeral by Sandy Day

Fred's FuneralAbout the Book

Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to war, and his ghost hovers near the ceiling of the dismal nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish and disparaging sister-in-law. As Viola dominates the remembrance of Fred, his ghost agonizes over his inability to set the record straight.

Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he shut away for most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Why didn’t his family help him more?

Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.

Format: ebook (129 pages)                       Publisher:
Publication date: 2nd December 2017 Genre: Historical fiction

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My Review

The book’s imaginative premise sees Fred Sadler become an unseen, ghostly presence at his own funeral and a witness, alongside the reader, to the gradual revealing of the unvarnished story of his life. Based on the true story of the author’s great uncle, it is a tale of ignorance at the time about the mental trauma suffered by soldiers as a result of their experiences. The attitude of Fred’s family and the treatment he undergoes at the hands of the medical profession are shocking by today’s standards. Fred is seen as an embarrassment, someone to be shut away and hidden from society.

I found Fred’s story intensely moving and would have welcomed more about the wartime experiences that led to his condition. The sections relating the history of the Sadler family were less compelling for me and I’m afraid I took an active dislike to Fred’s sister-in-law, Viola. Conversely, Dawn, his niece, seemed the only person interested in learning the truth about Fred and ensuring his memory was respected.

You can read an extract from Fred’s Funeral here and an interview in which, amongst other things, Sandy talks about how she came to write the book.

My thanks to Sandy for my review copy of Fred’s Funeral and for her patience in waiting for it to reach the top of my review pile! Sandy’s latest novel Head on Backwards, Chest Full of Sand will be published on 14th February 2020 and is available for pre-order now from Amazon UK

In three words: Moving, thought-provoking, intimate

Try something similar: The Dream Shelf by Jeff Russell (read my review here)

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Sandy DayAbout the Author

Sandy Day is the author of Poems from the Chatterbox. She graduated from Glendon College, York University, with a degree in English Literature sometime in the last century. Sandy spends her summers in Jackson’s Point, Ontario on the shore of Lake Simcoe. She winters nearby in Sutton by the Black River.

Sandy is a trained facilitator for the Toronto Writers Collective’s creative writing workshops. She is a developmental editor and book coach.

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