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A Tomb With a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards: Scottish Non-fiction Book of the Year 2021

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All of these sorrowful mysteries - and many more - are answered in A Tomb With A View , a book for anyone who has ever wandered through a field of crooked headstones and wondered about the lives and deaths of those who lie beneath. Like countless residents of Crossbones, participants of the Queerly Departed tour, or WWI fallen - they are not missing; they are here. In the midst of death, Peter Ross bring light and life to a subject that we should all talk more about.

A quick Google would have corrected that for him but he clearly didn't bother putting the effort in, and that, in a nutshell, is what a lot of the book felt like. In a year with so much death, it may have initially seemed a hard sell, but the author's humanity has instead acted as a beacon of light in the darkness.These gardens of death provide ample prompts for both individual life histories as well as large historic events. Ritual is important to those with faith too, and Ross spends time with a Muslim funeral director who has to collect a prepare a body for burial the following day so the soul can move on.

Peter Ross takes us on a tour of his favourite graveyards and introduces us to those who reside there, and, where temporally feasible, those who love them. Such care is taken to resite the remains, to identify them and to then contact living relatives, if any can be found.Fascinating … Ross makes a likeably idiosyncratic guide and one finishes the book feeling strangely optimistic about the inevitable. Taphophiles – people who are interested in cemeteries, funerals and gravestones – are an interesting bunch. George I heard of him and brought him over to England where he was feted at court until, growing tired of his inability to communicate and his erratic behaviour, he was sent to work on a farm where he eventually grew old, surrounded by people who cared for him.

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. Cemeteries have long been a focus for visits to the famous but – thanks to knowledgeable guides – the obscure or less famous are now also visited. The grieving, the caretakers, the gravediggers and the guides are all given prominence in this volume, but nowhere more poignantly than in the story of Shane MacThomáis, the Dublin man who tended the tombs in Glasnevin Cemetery so diligently. Ross makes a likeably idiosyncratic guide and one finishes the book feeling strangely optimistic about the inevitable. Ross’s journey takes him to all manner of places, but perhaps the one that speaks to us today is the most contemporary.Walking with the Easter Sunday parade to the Republican plot at Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery, Ross spots a little girl outside the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, banging gleefully on her dialysis machine as the marchers pass by, honouring the dead of the 1916 Easter Rising with flutes, drums and replica uniforms and rifles. Back in England, he investigates what happened to conscientious objectors killed in wartime and travels around northern France with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

David Robinson finds he brings the same skill and sensibilities to his new book on death and burial, A Tomb With a View.Although I had thought that there was nothing further I could learn to loath about the Catholic Church (and I say that as a catholic born and educated) Mr. Ross tells the stories of the graveyards and their dead, true, but most of all he conveys how the relationships between the dead and those who remain behind deepen with time. If you know me (or have read any of my Violet Veil books) you will probably know my lifelong graveyard obsession. It struck me then that every gravestone is a story, and I set out to learn and tell as many as I could. In the book we learn about forgotten figures like Lilias Adie, an elderly Scot who was imprisoned as a witch in Fife in 1704.

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