Anthony Loxton leads a double life. On the one hand, he’s the undertaker of a funeral home in Kalk Bay, which is located outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. On the other hand, he moonlights as Tony the Fox, a guitarist who plays the clubs around town. As a mortician, he finds solace in the silence of the dead. As a musician, he avails himself to the attention and respite offered by the ladies who frequent music venues. His life starts to change when a one-night stand of Anthony’s turns up on the slab of his morgue.
Conseulo Roland’s literary fiction novel is a fine study in character. At the opening of the book, the reader meets the young Anthony. It soon becomes apparent his family is not an ordinary family. He is the product of three generations of undertakers. Anthony often talks to dead people or takes naps in coffins in order to steal time away from his cantankerous father and emotionally-broken mother.
He is such a lonely little boy. The author deftly reveals a portrait of a sad family and how it is sometimes easier to draw into one’s self than interact with the world and risk getting hurt. As the title hints, there is nothing morbid about Conseulo Roland’s The Good Cemetery Guide. Rather it is a story of finding one’s self, as well as a story of how Anthony/Tony finds himself.
In addition to writing a pleasingly quirky story, Roland undoubtedly possesses a deft ear for language. Her sentences are literally a joy to read. It’s evident the author can not only spin an interesting plot, she is adept at the craft of writing as an art form. Such beautiful sentences can enrapture some readers, or cause other readers to get bogged down in the intricacy of the prose. I, for the most part, remained enraptured from beginning to end.
You can connect with Consuelo on her blog. Please be sure to check out Consuelo Roland’s work on Amazon.
Are you drawn to quirky stories?
A complimentary copy was provided by the author in exchange for this review. For more insight, read my Book Review Criteria.
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2013.
Now that sounds like an interesting read. 🙂 It’s not at all what I thought it would be about based on the title.
Cheryl, almost everything about Consuelo’s book is clever.
This could be an interesting glimpse into the different lives of those who work with the dead.
Jon, The Good Cemetary Guide really surprised me. Consuelo writes great characters and magical sentences.
Of course I immediately thought of Six Feet Under when I saw the top cover – which is a good thing. Talking with the dead has been played out in lots of novels , but as death is such unknown there is always something new to say about it. Quirky mixed with literary, sounds like a great combination. Thanks for the post Jeri.
A. K., Conseulo also has a book titled Lady Limbo that I can’t wait to check out. I guess you could say quirky mixed with literary is among my favorite types of writing 😉
What an interesting premiss for a story. I love the creativity that come from writers such as this, don’t you? The fact that she can write in a way that enraptures someone with her art form is way cool to me. I’ll be checking out his book.
Susan, I read writers like Consuelo and always think about how happy I will be to be able to pull off a draft that even comes half as close as hers did to being a true work of art. She’s a gifted writer.
You always find the most interesting books to review! Sounds like a great read I’ll have to check it out with the rest of your recommendations I’ve already downloaded!
Morgan, I’m glad to hear you’ve found my recommendations helpful 🙂
Interesting plot… I actually have a couple of friends whose families are undertakers. It really creeps me out, but they see it as a service that’s helpful to the community so I see that side of it.
Dan, writers like Conseulo who can turn such unexpected situations into a great story while also finding the commonalities we can all share in, will always have a top spot on my reading shelf.
Wow! This books sounds really interesting. You wrote such a great review, I think I may need to buy this book.
A little bizarre. And I think the preferred term is morticians. It’s not unusual, at least in my part of the country, to find that funeral homes are passed down through the generations. Interesting plot line.
Jeannette, it’s interesting that you think the preferred term is morticians. The main character in the book spends some time contemplating the connotations of both undertaker and mortician.
Interesting story. I wouldn’t have guessed the storyline from the title of the book. I agree, the print cover is nice.
Denise, I had mixed feelings about starting this one due to the eBook cover, but soon discovered Conseulo is a top-notch writer of literary fiction. I think the print cover better suits that genre.
Good title – catchy synopsis for a book. It reminds me a bit of the Neil Gaiman book The Graveyard, but it sounds like a much different tale.
Leora, everyone I know seems to have read a Neil Gaiman book expect me. I need to fix that!
This actually sounds like a really interesting story to me. I like when books have a unique plot that serves as a lesson almost everyone can relate to. It also sounds like a unique family dynamic and setting to have a story unfold.
Kelly, it’s true that books like this with a unique family dynamic can make for memorable literature. Nobody wants to read about “normal” people 😉
I actually like the first cover, which I’m assuming is the e-book cover. The other one is so… ordinary, and even a bit depressing. But anyway, this story is very interesting. When you said that the girl he had a one night stand with winds up in his morgue, I’m immediately thinking that he becomes the suspect. Is he?
Rynessa, you will have to read Conseulo’s book to find out if Anthony becomes a suspect 😉 Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope to see you again.