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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One caveat, though: neither the cover nor the book's description hints that the book is mostly limited to cemeteries in Ireland and the United Kingdom. This book has opened up the social history that can be found, it's not just a place where the dead lay under the soil. Speaking to Highgate's gardener and stonemason, and Haji Taslim Funerals is an intimate glimpse behind the curtain on the everyday life of burials. One hundred years after the end of the First World War, men who fought in it are still being buried in Belgium and France, as their bodies are retrieved and identified.

A nine-times winner at the Scottish Press Awards and shortlisted for the Orwell journalism prize, he is a regular contributor to the Guardian and The Times. By talking to people from various cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities and religions, Ross delves into a diverse array of outlooks, forms of grief and mysteries surrounding the dead. And the nature of his subject means that Ross takes readers through art, literature, popular music, theatre, sentimental stories, the comic and the weird. A tomb with a view is filled with anecdotes and lovely stories about people who I had never heard about, and whose stories would not have made it into Ross’s book were it not that he encountered their tomb stone. Ross brings both MacThomais and Glasnevin to life, delving into his family history and that of the cemetery, artfully interweaving both with tales of Ireland’s wider history.

Why is the music hall star who sang 'I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside' buried on a hillside in Glasgow far from the sound of the silvery sea? His stories are often bizarre, such as the vigils at and consecration of the Crossbones graveyard for prostitutes in Southwark or a Viking handfasting ceremony in the Nonconformist chapel of Arnos Vale cemetery in Bristol. Having mass in places that juxtaposed the living and the dead were thought to be mutually beneficial. This is a rambling walk in a whole host of graveyards around the UK from the Victorian London graveyards to the IRA war cemey in Belfast. Peter Ross, the book's author, encourages us to go beyond the stones and physical attributes of cemeteries because they are like libraries and have stories, which are connected to each person buried there.

Mr Ross tells stories that are not just moving, inspiring and respectful, but show that while graveyards may hold the dead, they hold a record of the living, and preserve the story of a community in a very special and unique way.

Some are opened up to the living for tours (of which the “Queerly Departed” tour of the graves of LGBTQ people in Brompton cemetery is a fine example), others as wedding venues.

A Tomb With a View: the stories and glories of graveyards is the first book I am writing about that is actually concerned with cemeteries. This shows the wealth of books about death, dying and the dead; you can spend years reading about these topics and never encounter a single place for burial. I thought that this was a really good book about how we as a modern society are coping with death and how it differs to the way that we treated the dead in the past. Peter Ross' journey through the graveyards and cemeteries of Britain, as documented in this book, definitely led to some fascinating stories, both about the living and the dead. It was first known as Prospect Cemetery and the tragic tale of Shane MacThomáis who once told the stories of the people within its walls and took his own life on a tree in the grounds.We have been walking in cemeteries here and abroad for many years – they provide an immediate condensation of their local histories and cultures and a usually deserted place to walk in an urban setting. His journey will take him from the natural burial site of Sharpham Meadow in Devon where he meets Bridgitt and the resting place of her late husband Wayne where she is picking leaves off the discreet stone with his name on. James Joyce and Charles Dickens would’ve loved it - a book that reveals much gravity in the humour and many stories in the graveyard. After this period has lapsed people can chose to renew this period but if the bill is not paid, a grave will be cleared and made available to a new person. 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.

In the same chapter Ross takes us to the graves of Republicans in Dublin, paying equal respect to that previously shown to sectarian sites, before turning our attention to diverse cultural beliefs about death and burial. The harrowing cillacs in Ireland, where unbaptised infants are laid to rest in remote fields or on the edges of church grounds and society itself, provide a stark, emotional contrast.

Early on, he mentions that cemeteries are like parks for introverts, which I love, alongside how cemeteries can become like your favorite beach.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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