Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review: Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral

Author:Kris Radish
Title: Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral
Publisher: Bantam
Publish Date: Jan 2006
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: Radish's latest overwrought book (after Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn) tracks five strangers– turned–soul mates over the course of the titular funeral, posthumously organized by their friend Annie, who died from ovarian cancer at age 56. A package arrives at Katherine Givens's front door and in it are the ashes of her free-spirited, altruistic childhood friend, along with instructions for a procession that will take Annie's closest friends on a cross country trip from Sonoma, Calif., to Manhattan, sprinkling her remains as they go. Just nine days later, Annie's former university colleague Jill, women's crisis savior Laura, cantankerous neighbor Rebecca and her hospice aide Marie join Katherine on the journey during which they learn their eccentric friend's deepest secrets and share many of their own. Most importantly, these unorthodox urnbearers understand the greatness Annie saw in them and attain the courage to act on it. Windswept melodrama marks Radish's prose (e.g. "these moments were the ones Marie needed to keep the tears and gashes in her own soul from washing her out to sea"), but that will not deter readers who relish the idea of women forming bonds when their mettle is tested and finding power and self-actualization in grief, sharing and love.

Review: I don't think I've ever been so moved by a book. I realized going in that this was a book that you either love or you hate. I loved it. It is a book that really shows the power of friendship and the bonds that women share between one another. I adored each one of Annie's pallbearers on her traveling funeral.

Each woman was very different and yet through their common bond, their friendship with Annie, they all come to be great friends. Its quite likely that you'll discover a bit of yourself in one of the characters. For me it was Balinda, a daughter that is trapped by taking care of her ailing mother.

There is so much about this book that makes the reader reflect on life and death. The book really seemed to carry a strong message of live life to the fullest. Annie may not have had a perfect life, but through her own trials she shared this belief with the five women she was closest two.

The idea of a traveling funeral was quite odd to me at first but as you learned the reasons Annie chose the places she did for her friends to visit and spread her ashes it makes more and more sense. It also really became a celebration of her life rather than a somber occasion.

The funeral book that they all wrote in is an idea that I came to love as I read. Whenever they had thoughts of Annie they wrote them down, rather than having a book with names of the people that came. It was a memento of their thoughts and feelings of their friend, with some remarks on what she would have said to their thoughts.

The book was so well written. The characters introduced in an orderly fashion. Radish introduced each woman as Katherine called them about the funeral and then shared how Annie became part of each woman's life.

I alternated between tears and laughter as I read this book. It really reached in and touched a part of me. It made me long for friends like Katherine, Laura, Jill, Rebecca, Maria, Balinda and Annie. I don't think I could recommend any book as highly as I do this one.

Rating: 5 flowers


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I am so glad you enjoyed this one! I have a friend from my book club who's aunt had cancer. She let her read this book after we were done reviewing it for our group and her aunt loved the book and said she was so doing this!

She passed away last week and my friend says she knows that any time now a letter will come in the mail of the plan. She says that is just the kind of lady her aunt was. She had also purchased birthday gifts for her kids up to the age of 30. They are both under 10 now.

All because of a book. How awesome is that?

heather said...

I loved it.

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