Memoirs of a Good Death is Anne Sorbie’s debut book, published by Thistledown Press. Thistledown had already scored a recent home-run with Darcie Hossack’s Mennonites Don’t Dance so I was excited to read this book since it looked good and I had faith in the publisher. This is the story of Rhegan and her tumultuous relationship with her parents and multiple (lots and lots of) husbands. This book takes a lot of chances; the story, for most part it, is straight realism but the point-of-view is very post-modern, the story is straight forward but there are lots of surprises along the way.
I really enjoyed this book. This is a highly literary novel that I could easily see standing the test of time and getting a lot of scholarly attention. It’s a very dense book, and I really mean this as a positive. Coming in at 266 pages, this book felt more like a 500 pager in both volume of story and fulfillment. As I read this book I thought it was a bit of a contradiction, there is a ton of story, but yet not much really happens. The story is set in a relatively narrow time frame and there a really a small number of characters. All of these things combined made Memoir of a Good Death a very satisfying and original read.
Something that is essential to enjoying this book is the ability to, as they say in theatre, suspend disbelief. It is made clear right from page one that this book is told from the first person point-of-view of a dead woman, Rhegan, with occasional chapters switching to an interesting second person point-of-view revolving around Rehgan’s mother, Sarah. At the start of the book I was worried that the fact that I already knew Rhegan was dead might ruin the story. It definitely does not. There are a lot of unexpected turns in the plot that keep you turning the page.
The ending of the novel is very intense. I had to let this book sink in for a few days before I wrote this review. This is not a book that you can rip through in a couple days, if you do you will lose the magic of the story. It took me about 8 days to finish and absorb every sentence. Memoir of a Good Death is a dark and esoteric novel that will haunt you long after it is back on the shelf.