A Trick I Learned from Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge – review

  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • What’s A Trick I Learned From Dead Men about? After the disappearance of their father and the sudden death of their mother, Lee Hart and his deaf brother, Ned, imagine all is lost. That is, until Lee lands a traineeship at their local funeral home and discovers there is life after death. Here, in the company of a crooning ex-publican, a closet pole vaulter, a terminally-ill hearse driver and the dead of their local town, old wounds begin to heal and love arrives as a beautiful florist aboard a ‘Fleurtations’ delivery van.

    But death is closer than Lee Hart thinks. Somewhere among the quiet lanes and sleepy farms something else is waiting. And it is closing in. Don’t bring your work home with you, that’s what they say. Too late…

    goodtoknow says: The narrator of the book, Lee ‘can’t put (his) finger on what’s gone wrong in (his) life’. Working in a funeral home as an apprentice undertaker, and living with his step father Lester and his deaf brother Ned, on the surface this book could be seen as a depressing read, but the writing style is such that at times it is surprisingly uplifting and funny.

    All of Lee’s family live in some sort of skewed reality; Lester who lives his life through reality TV shows, Ned who experiences life in silence, and Lee, who is faced with the starkest reality every day, death.
    At home Lee is often ignored by Ned and Lester, but at work he is in his element, working on and talking to the dead people, where there is no need for a reply.

    The plot at times can be slow paced, if you’re looking for an action novel this is not the book for you. However the descriptions and incredibly insightful and often beautiful quotes about life and death thrown in to the narrative make it well worth reading. Lee is a believable character, and his hopes of a romance with florist Lorelle, his complex relationship with Ned and his memories of his protective, naively optimistic mother, keep you reading. The characters in the book really add to the story.

    Overall this tale of life (and death) from average man Lee is an optimistic read, and you’ll find you will very much care for him by the end of the story. He may narrate life in a simplistic way, but this is in no way a simple novel.

    Rating: 8/10
    Publisher: Jonathan Cape
    Publish Date: Out now

    If you like this, you’ll love: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

    Buy it now on Amazon

    More book reviews in the goodtoknow Book Club. Have
    you read A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Alrdridge? If you have, tell us what you
    thought of it by publishing your review in the comments box below.

    Where to next?

    Sue Townsend’s The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year – review

    SJ Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep – review

    See the new titles in goodtoknow’s 2013 Book Club