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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It struck me then that every gravestone is a story, and I set out to learn and tell as many as I could. He moves along a non-linear path, from accounts of loneliness and mental illness to encounters with religious tension – including the burial of murdered Irish journalist Lyra McKee. By talking to people from various cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities and religions, Ross delves into a diverse array of outlooks, forms of grief and mysteries surrounding the dead.

It is about the dead but full of life, telling the stories of the inhabitants, in glorious technicolour. Why is the music hall star who sang 'I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside' buried on a hillside in Glasgow far from the sound of the silvery sea? The glories come from the stones and memorials, and many of the stories come from the people he meets, the conversations they strike up and the curious lives they lead. These physical and visceral tributes, alongside later projects, such as Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old and Sam Mendes’ 1917, brought the insanity of ‘the war to end all wars’ to the forefront of 21 st century minds. There were some funny moments too – an ossuary with a panic alarm in case of goths (tempted to goth it up and visit one day), and a Russian vegetarian unable to handle so many skulls (“I’m not trying to make you eat them, dear!Since the start of the pandemic many of us have been discovering new spaces within a familiar city or town-scape.

Yes, burial grounds of all kinds from the vast Victorian cemeteries of London, those great gardens o 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. This could so easily have been a cold and gloomy book, but the secret to its warmth lies in Ross’ writing. These gardens of death provide ample prompts for both individual life histories as well as large historic events. The book is also a meditation on a personal approach to mortality, burial customs, and what follows after.It often felt like the chapters didn’t have anything in common, and were mostly short essays/stories about the author’s experiences at graveyards. Speaking to Highgate's gardener and stonemason, and Haji Taslim Funerals is an intimate glimpse behind the curtain on the everyday life of burials.

And there are political stories like those of the World War 1 conscientious objectors held in Richmond Castle in Yorkshire, and the Irish republican “martyrs” in Milltown, Belfast and Dublin’s Glasnevin cemetery. Amelia Edwards travelled around Egypt long before it was acceptable for women to travel without male company.A Tomb With A View is set in as sinister an old library as one is likely to come across presided over by a portrait of a grim faced, mad eyed old man. From the path alongside the River Lune he took footpaths and byways across Lancaster and Morecambe to link up two small cemeteries and a crematorium. Not just of lives lost, but of graveyards as a place of solace and a place to retreat to when parks became so crowded as to mitigate against social distancing.



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

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