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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The first barmaid in England to have been eaten by a tiger (Hannah Twynoy, 23 October 1703, Malmesbury) makes it into his pages.

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’. In London’s Highgate, he compares the attention paid to the tombs of people such as Karl Marx and George Elliot, to the privacy of George Michael’s grave, before focusing on the story of the ancient graveyard cedar, so lovingly cared for, but eventually replaced by a young sapling.Muslim funerals, including those for the Grenfell Dead are explained in humble detail, along with descriptions of ossuaries from centuries past, but the rights of people to perform natural burials, without religious ceremony is one of the most eloquent chapters of the book, bringing universal themes of mental health, loss and love to a head. This was usually not evenly done, so you’d sometimes read a brief mention about someone but then move on and suddenly read lots of pages about another person.

Ross introduces us to characters like Lilias Adie, occupant of the only known witch grave in Scotland, who perished in 1704 after confessing - possibly after being tortured - to sorcery.We meander from the long lost past, meditating on lives of those still residing in the few remaining charnel houses to the life affirming weddings now taking place in graveyards like Arnos in Bristol. Amelia Edwards travelled around Egypt long before it was acceptable for women to travel without male company. I read A Tomb With A View every weekend morning throughout October, sitting on the couch next to my husband, reading bits out to him, and at one point exclaiming (it was during the Cedar chapter - let’s just say I’m very glad we visited Highgate Cemetery when we did). My favorite cemeteries in the world are Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio as there is a Native American mound there alongside being where my grandfather is buried alongside Père Lachaise in Paris, which is always my first stop when I am in Paris. Ross also speaks to Mohamed Omer of the hugely difficult task he had of dealing with the profound bereavement of relatives of the Grenfell fire – a bereavement made so much more difficult because the bodies could not be buried for some considerable time.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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