After the disappearance of their father and the sudden death of their mother, Lee Hart and his deaf brother, Ned, imagine all is lost until Lee starts an apprenticeship at the local funeral home and discovers there is life after death. Here, in the company of a crooning ex-publican, a closet pole vaulter, a terminally-ill hearse driver, and the dead of their local town, old wounds begin to heal and love arrives as a beautiful florist aboard a ‘Fleurtations’ delivery van.
But death is closer than Lee Hart thinks. Somewhere among the quiet lanes and sleepy farms something else is waiting. And it is closing in. Don’t bring your work home with you, that’s what they say. Too late.
Sometimes sad, often hilarious and ultimately tragic and deeply moving, A Trick I Learned from Dead Men is a pitch perfect, small masterpiece from a writer described by Richard Ford as having a ‘moral grasp upon life that is grave, knowing, melancholy, often extremely funny and ultimately optimistic.
Longlisted for The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2012
Longlisted for the Women’s International Fiction Prize 2013
A Trick I Learned From Dead Men is a wonderfully funny, original novel. It is a testament to Aldridge’s writing that she manages to create a convincing and expansive universe in such a modest space. In writing about lives and deaths reduced to their smallest elements she has created something joyous and life-affirming. (read more)
EVIE WYLD, THE GUARDIAN
The most perfectly formed, originally voiced, heartbreakingly real story I’ve read in years. I laughed, I cried, and mostly I just marvelled at how bloody brilliant this book is.
Kitty Aldridge has pulled off an astonishing feat of imaginative empathy: humorous, poignant, wise and utterly convincing. Lee Hart’s struggle to hold his life together – voiced with the clarity and frankness of a reluctant stoic – could pierce the hardest heart.
A Trick I Learned From Dead Men is a wonderful book, written with a mixture of pathos and bleak humour. Lee’s narration seems beautifully true: it is stop-start, cliche-ridden, and marked by that peculiarly British tendency to point out the stray cloud in an otherwise spotless sky.
Despite being set among the dead, Aldridge’s novel is brimful of life and littered with laugh-out-loud moments. At only 200 pages long there isn’t a squandered syllable, and it’s impossible not to be moved and amused by this hard-pressed but eternally optimistic protagonist.
MAIL ON SUNDAY (BOOKS OF 2012)
Lee, a trainee in a funeral home, gives a cheery account of his experiences. Disclosures reveal his jauntiness to be heroic stoicism in this finely handled blend of the funny and sad. Peter Kemp.
Aldridge’s punchy style captures [Lee Hart’s] matter-of-fact voice perfectly as he fights on with moving determination. Both tragic yet somehow life-affirming, her novel holds you to the end.
Aldridge beautifully captures Lee’s thought patterns, in which cheering cliches fail to mask failure and despair, and movingly portrays the relentless drudgery of both his domestic and professional life. Her research is impeccable, and the quirky portrait of funeral home routine will appeal to fans of the TV series Six Feet Under.
A Trick I Learned From Dead Men successfully tackles the tricky taboo of death and the art of dying, stripping away the preconceptions many of us posses. It takes a few chapters to get used to the idiosyncratic narration, but readers are rewarded with an uplifting tale of life after death. Dead good.
This small but perfectly formed third novel from Kitty Aldridge is over too soon but is impressively accomplished, nailing the distinctive voice of its protagonist. Inventive coming-of-age tale. (read more)
Kitty Aldridge has a talent for vocalising the thoughts of the young. In her first-person narration Aldridge captures the idiom and diction of an earnest working lad. The unembellished matter-of-factness also adds to the impact of Aldridge’s descriptions of Lee’s job. The sensitivity and respect with which Lee and his colleagues treat the deceased is touching. (read more)
THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
Aldridge’s new novel, like her previous one, is a lament for modern humanity’s disconnection from nature. Blackly funny, moving, eccentric story about death.. (read more)
Aldridge is a skilled observer and the novel is full of detailed, sometimes strangely beautiful descriptions of the situations Lee encounters as he attempts to keep his family afloat. There is joy to be found in the mundanities of day-to-day life. (read more)
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
Life and death collide in Aldridge’s novel about a young undertaker called Lee who is struggling to take care of his deaf brother and grief-stricken stepfather. Both sad and uplifting, it’s one of the best books of the year, with a confident narrative voice.
THE BOOKSELLER (WE LOVE THIS BOOK)
This simple poignant tale resonates long after the final page has been turned.
A dark but oddly funny novel.. Sad, funny and very moving.
EASY LIVING MAGAZINE
Yet he [Lee Hart] is an immensely likeable protagonist and Aldridge has absolutely captured his engagingly open inner voice. Lee manages the seemingly impossible. Despite everything, he gets the last laugh.
SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY
I tend to read period books (yeah, I’m a Victorian lit geek). This book is perfection, though. It’s a moving book all about love, loss, death and family. You’ll cry, but it’s really funny too, and the oddball characters are totally unforgettable and haunting.
FABULOUS MAGAZINE: THE SUN
The still, small moments, when Lee grasps at something of an answer, at warmth, are fleeting gems: ‘I reckon I am happy. Definition of happiness: When knob-all happens but you don’t mind in the least. Can’t last of course, nothing does.’ (read more)
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