I mean of course I’m staying true to form and starting my 20 books of summer challenge with a book that is not on my original list.
Mrs Death Misses Death
Mrs Death tells her intoxicating story in this life-affirming fire-starter of a novel.
Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to, Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn’t met Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen.
Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. As the two reflect on the losses they have experienced – or, in the case of Mrs Death, facilitated – their friendship grows into a surprising affirmation of hope, resilience and love. All the while, despite her world-weariness, Death must continue to hold humans’ fates in her hands, appearing in our lives when we least expect her . . .
I knew that this was going to be an interesting book just from the description but I didn’t have any idea quite how unique a reading experience this would be. I knew very little about the author before I started this book but when I found out that she is a poet it did not surprise me. Mrs Death Misses Death has a lyrical style, a rhythm that draws you in quickly and forces you to pay attention.
Despite this book being based around a subject that most of us find hard to face and involves stories that are not always easy to hear it really was fascinating this exploration of death, what and who has caused it, and a wider look at our reaction to it. I could quite happily have gotten lost in the intersection and personification of Death, Life, and Time, because some of the author’s observations were so astute. I also loved that in this depiction Death is a Black woman who is so run down from having to deal with death, she is struggling with the weight of her purpose but she also has such presence and personality.
Whilst this book started really strong, I did find that I started to get a bit lost at certain points, I feel that this is maybe down to the fact that I have experienced it as an audiobook like maybe some of the structure of the book doesn’t quite translate properly. I feel like this is a book that I would maybe like to experience again whilst having the printed version in front of me so that I have a clearer picture of what is happening.
Having said that listening to the audiobook was a dream because the author narrated it, and you can tell she has experience with this kind of performance. I honestly feel like Salena Godden could read out a parking ticket and I would be transfixed, she adds such depth to the reading and every breath and intonation in her delivery felt purposeful, it was an amazing listening experience.