About the Book
Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to WWI, and the ghost of Fred Sadler hovers near the ceiling of the nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish sister-in-law, Viola. As she dominates the remembrance of Fred, he agonizes over his inability to set the record straight. Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he locked up most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Could his family not have done more for him? Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.
With thanks to the author for the copy received for review.
Fred’s Funeral is a sweet novella that describes a family get together after Fred’s funeral. It is probably a familiar situation, that of different generations of the same family realising too late that they didn’t know enough about an elderly relative in their family.
Fred had served in WW1, and returned home struggling with shell-shock and having to cope with everything that he saw. Like many he found it difficult to talk about it and after a series of incidents, that were mainly alcohol related, was placed in Whitby Hospital for the Insane. Whether it was the best place for him or not isn’t the main topic, what is more important to Fred’s ghost is that he wants to tell his story. And not listen to the version that his sister-in-law Viola insists on telling.
What he does experience in the war is only touched on briefly, much of the story focuses on him struggling to rebuild his life in the following years. He feels lost, lonely and is in a constant battle with his family to prove that he is worthy and does not need to be in the hospital. He can’t talk about his feelings and fears and sadly the people he knows don’t have the time or interest in him to listen.
It is quick and easy to read, I read it over a weekend. I think there will be a few who do read it who feel a sense of guilt for not taking the time to listen to older family members who have a tale to tell.
This is also probably the only book cover that made me feel emotional. Thinking about how the young man in the photograph had no idea what he would be about to see.
Fred’s funeral is based on true events in the author’s family.