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Fred's Funeral Kindle Edition
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This story begins when Fred dies alone and basically forgotten in an Ontario Nursing Home.
Fred finds himself stuck between death and the Afterlife and somehow tethered to his estranged family. He floats, invisible, to his own funeral and the reception afterward.
Fred's relatives, most of whom never knew Fred existed, are eager to learn more about his life.
They learn how Fred's time as a soldier in World War One profoundly effected him and how his father had him involuntarily committed to the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, which was also known as Ontario's Hospital for the Insane for 'Shell Shock.'
This occured in real life to the author's Uncle and Whitby Hospital for the Insane actually existed. The hospital was considered a model of mental health care for its era, however, patients like Fred were forced to undergo treatments that are now seen as cruel and barbaric.
The more readers learn about Fred and his life, the more they will be forced to think about how veterans have been treated in the past, and how they are treated today. It will also bring awareness to mental health issues which is much needed.
Did Fred actually have "Shell Shock?" (What was once called Shell Shock is now know as PTSD - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.) We, as a society, are only just now beginning to recognize and treat PTSD sufferers with the dignity they deserve. But, we still have a long way to go to completely remove the stigma that is wrongfully attached to mental health issues.
FRED'S FUNERAL contains a mere 114 pages which makes it an ideal weekend read. I was so absorbed in the story that I read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours.
I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good family drama with a dose of history thrown in. In fact, this little book really packs a punch.
I read this via an ARC from the author, for Rosie's Book Review Team
Fred's Funeral is a long novella, beginning with the death of Fred Sadler, in 1986. As he dies, his ghost floats up and observes his relatives at his bedside, and follows them to the funeral and back to his family home as they share their memories of him. The book then dips back and forth between present and past, to his childhood in Jackson Point, near Toronto, to his horrific experiences in the First World War, to the many years afterwards when he was trying to find his feet.
Fred led a difficult life, always the outsider. His family history is complicated, with many undercurrents, resentments and complex issues. Little went right for him after WW1, which was, of course, closely followed by the Depression. He suffered from shell shock for many, many years, but this was not understood in those days; his family tried to get him a disabled war veteran pension, or into a hospital for those who suffered with this malady, but they were to discover that the doctors were in cahoots with the military: if a patient was diagnosed with a different sort of mental illness, the War Office would not have to pay.
Fred is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and goes through much in the various hospitals he is sent to.
As Ghost Fred watches his family, he feels in turn angry, misunderstood, unloved and, occasionally, pleased by what he hears. He was thought of as 'mad old Fred', and there is much in this book that is so sad; it made me want to find the younger man and make everything alright for him. As the book dots about between times, I kept being lifted out of one era and put down in another but they fit together nicely, I became quickly engrossed in every snapshot of his life, and gradually the jigsaw fitted together.
The book is so readable and well written, and I enjoyed how the story built up, not only in Fred's life but from a sociological history point of view. It's interesting (if frustrating) from the point of view of family wrangles, and builds such a tragic picture of the poor men caught up in the pointless carnage of WW1. I really liked it.
Most recent customer reviews
I loved this novella.Read more
Taken from a third person perspective, Fred's Funeral is a ghost story...Read more