Good Mourning, Elizabeth Meyer, Caitlin Moscatello
Published August 25th 2015 by Gallery Books
Hardcover, 288 pages
Source: e-ARC from NetGalley
In this funny, insightful memoir, a young socialite risks social suicide when she takes a job at a legendary funeral chapel on New York City’s Upper East Side.Good Mourning offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most famous funeral homes in the country where not even big money can protect you from the universal experience of grieving. It’s Gossip Girl meets Six Feet Under, told from the unique perspective of a fashionista turned funeral planner.
Elizabeth Meyer stumbled upon a career in the midst of planning her own father’s funeral, which she turned into an upbeat party with Rolling Stones music, thousands of dollars worth of her mother’s favorite flowers, and a personalized eulogy. Starting out as a receptionist, Meyer quickly found she had a knack for helping people cope with their grief, as well as creating fitting send-offs for some of the city’s most high-powered residents. Meyer has seen it all: two women who found out their deceased husband (yes, singular) was living a double life, a famous corpse with a missing brain, and funerals that cost more than most weddings. By turns illuminating, emotional, and darkly humorous, Good Mourning is a lesson in how the human heart grieves and grows, whether you’re wearing this season’s couture or drug-store flip-flops.
This book had a lot of potential. Sadly, the stories pitched in the blurb were too short to really sell the book as a whole and honestly, Elizabeth Meyer really thinks way too much of her wardrobe for me. Meyer started in the funeral business as a receptionist soon after the death of her father. The other receptionists don’t see past her Gucci heels on the first day of work and never warm to her and frankly are quite cruel. She moves from answering calls to dealing with families and helping them plan incredibly detailed – and expensive funerals. I am not discounting how unfair the treatment by her coworkers was – but when I read
“For the pittance I was making, my job was less a job and more charity work for the Upper East Side.”
If that’s your attitude I’m sure that the people who are counting on that pittance for their income aren’t going to like you. I get that Meyer couldn’t disclose a who exactly she helped at the funeral home, but it just felt like there could have been richer stories. I mean a corpse with a missing brain? Where did it go?! Who would have taken it? Couldn’t there have been some follow-up to find out?
I do applaud Meyer for talking about death and wanting to get people talking to their families and preparing for the inevitable, but in the end this would have been better with less fashion and more detailed anecdotes.
Thank you Gallery Books and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
All quotes taken from an unfinished galley copy in advance of publication.