Title: Edna’s Death Cafe by Angelena Boden
Date Published: 3rd September 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction
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?
I’m not crying honest…*sniffs*
So this another book that has been out of my comfort zone this year and what an emotional ride this was!
Edna is a 79 year old woman who is still reeling from the death of her beloved Ted. She starts a death cafe out of The Happy Oatcake, the cafe she inherited from her mother, to not only give herself some closure but the others in the village around her.
I loved Edna. She’s a such a caring character running a cafe, trying her hardest to help people. Also she proves that no matter how old you are you can still follow your dreams after she graduated from university at the age of seventy five.
We meet an interesting bunch of characters along the way too. Gordon a sheep farmer who’s mum is dying. Lionel and Ruth who’s daughter died in a tragic accident. Nigel who’s been drinking his life away after the death of his wife June. Manny, Edna’s best friend, who even thirty years after losing his boyfriend, still feels the loss. Finally Martine Shaw, a Canadian who turns up in the village suddenly and seem intent on making Edna’s life a misery.
There’s also a nice injection of humour here and there, that makes something as depressing as discussing death, not feel so bleak.
I have to be honest this was not an easy read for me but in a good way, if that makes sense. It made me confront some feelings which I didn’t even know I had from when my mum died almost ten years ago, especially when they were discussing things they wished they’d said to their loved ones before they died, I got a real lump in my throat reading that!
There were certain parts of the storyline did feel a little rushed. The introduction of the Death Cafe idea at the beginning of the story for instance, I would have like to know a bit more about where it came from and the history behind it etc. Also the ending while it was satisfying I felt that one of the character had an about turn in opinion and behaviour that could have been done a little less abruptly.
Overall Edna’s Death Cafe is a poignant and thought provoking tale that will make you both laugh and cry in equal measure.
Angelena Boden has spent thirty- five years as an international training consultant, specialising in behavioural management and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.
She originates from the Peak District but has spent a life time travelling and living in places as far apart as Vancouver, Dubai, Paris, Seville and Iran. Now semi-retired in Great Malvern, she writes every morning, walks the hills and paints landscapes every afternoon and fits family and reading in between.
She is the author of two traditionally published novels and many articles and blogs.
Her most recent novel, Edna’s Death Cafe is published as an e-book by Matador.
Angelena is keen to meet readers, old and new, and is available for book talks, events, and always chatting over a cuppa (within 60 miles of Worcester).