Not long ago I read a fascinating wonderfully researched novel by Amita Murray, The Pre-Raphaelite Seamtress set in Victorian England. I greatly enjoyed it. I was very grateful when Murray agreed to do a Q and A session for The Reading Life.
I just completed her Confessions of a Reluctant Embalmer, set in The Patel Funeral Home in London. It is a family business. The mother is English and the father of Indian Heritage. Their twenty something daughter, Anna Patel, narrates the story and is an embalmer, not every one's dream job but it runs in the family.
As the story opens Anna is getting a body ready for a funeral. We are given a detailed description of the embalming process. I learned a lot about what goes on in the back room of a funeral home from Anna. Murray's magic actually makes it fun to sit in as bodies are drained. Anna talks about her subjects as if they were still alive. We learn about the family. We meet Anna's fiancé Jake, a surgeon. The father spends most of his time working on his never yet successful real estate investments. The parents fight a lot, there is a kind of crazy aunt, and others interesting characters. There is a gay romance. Patel Funeral Home caters both to Asians and westerners so they do all sorts of services.
Once you I got into a bit, I soon sound this was a flat out hilarious book. The funeral business is threatened with shut down when a bizarre incident involving a dead cat found in coffin comes to the attention of a nightmarish government inspector who wants to know everything about the business. I came to admire the sheer pluck of Anna in her dogged efforts to keep the business open. There is a scene involving the grandmother that made me laugh out loud. Something exciting happens every few pages.
Confessions of a Reluctant Embalmer is a smoothly authored fast reading work that I think most will very much enjoy. The characters are well realized and I cared about them.
Author of Confessions of a Reluctant Embalmer and The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress
Amita Murray has worked as a dancer, arts writer, fashion editor, seller of Christmas flowers, PR assistant for supercomputers, counsellor for a jobs website and hen party host. She was working as an academic when she did what you're never supposed to do - she left her full-time job to do more writing.
Even when she tries to write serious stuff, it tends to come out a bit funny, so she tries not to write about serial killers. She loves chocolate, dysfunctional families, and world peace. Her short stories have been published in Brand, Inkspill, and other platforms. Her novels are available on Amazon. For updates, check out @AmitaMurray and www.amitamurray.com