Review: The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield


Title: The Undertaker’s Daughter

Author: Kate Mayfield

Published: Gallery Books Jan 2015

Status: Read from January 12 to 15, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The Undertaker’s Daughter is a memoir by Kate Mayfield whose family owned and operated a funeral home in Jubilee, a small town on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee, from the 1960’s to the late 1970’s.

Kate and her family, her parents Lily and Frank and siblings Thomas, Evelyn and Jemma, lived above the business, housed on the ground floor of their home. As a young child Kate had the run of the place, though she was required to tiptoe around their quarters when a body was in residence. In the first few chapters, she shares her charming curiosity about the deceased that passed through the home, uncomplicated by a fear of death and social disapproval.

As Kate grows up, the memoir’s focus shifts to the town and her family, though the undertaking business remains relevant. She details the small town politics the family had to contend with, the often eccentric townspeople, and touches on the issues of segregation and desegregation, through her friendship with the family’s housekeeper, Belle, and her own clandestine relationships with two African American boys as a teen. With regards to her family, Kate reveals her sister’s mental illness but is especially focused on her relationship with her father, a complicated man she worshiped as a child, but who lost some of his lustre when Kate eventually learned of the secrets he kept as a serial adulterer and secret drinker.

Well written, The Undertaker’s Daughter is a charming and poignant memoir exploring one woman’s experience of life and death in a small southern town.

Available to Purchase From

Simon & Schuster I Amazon US I BookDepository I IndieBound

in Australia: via Booko