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  • Writer's pictureCaitlyn Lynch

Blog Tour and Book Review: Five Wakes and a Wedding by Karen Ross

Five Wakes And A Wedding

Undertaker Nina Sherwood is full of good advice. For example, never wear lip gloss when you’re scattering ashes.

Nina is your average 30-year-old with a steady job, a nice home – and dead bodies in her basement. As an undertaker, she often prefers the company of the dead to the living – they’re obliging, good listeners and take secrets to the grave. Nina is on a one-woman mission to persuade her peers that passing on is just another part of life. But the residents of Primrose Hill are adamant that a funeral parlour is the last thing they need… and they will stop at nothing to close down her dearly beloved shop. When Nina’s ‘big break’ funeral turns out to be a prank, it seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin for her new business. That is, until a (tall, dark and) mysterious investor shows up out of the blue, and she decides to take a leap of faith. Because, after all, it’s her funeral…

The perfect antidote to all those books about weddings, this book will make you laugh until you cry, perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley’s Bridesmaids, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Good Place.

My Review:

Tired of grief being monetized in her job at a chain undertaker, Nina quits to set up her own boutique business, wanting to give people both dignity and the choice to be sent off in the way they want. Unexpectedly getting an opportunity to set up in the rather ritzy London suburb of Primrose Hill, she soon discovers the other local business owners aren’t as welcoming as she’d hoped… they seem to think death will be bad for their business.

Nina has an intriguing cast of friends, and she’s the kind of person who makes more easily. Even some people who don’t want to like her are drawn into reluctant admiration for both her drive and her compassion. She’s easy to like and to root for. The issue I had was with her love interest, Barclay, who’s basically a bored, rich manchild, with his never-ending succession of expensive time-wasting hobbies. Honestly, I wanted Nina to get together with her artist friend Edo, who was much more interesting and hard-working. Maybe even a healthy poly relationship with Edo and bestie Gloria, who deserved a lot more page time than she got.

Billed as a rom com, this… didn’t really hit the comedy spot at all. Nina spends too much time struggling, financial pressures constantly on her mind, and, frankly, death is a pretty depressing topic. The book’s title is obviously meant to be a callback to Four Weddings and a Funeral, but if you remember the movie… the funeral was the serious, depressing part. There are FIVE funerals here, two of them of characters we’ve really come to care about, and when the wedding comes around, we know one of the characters very slightly and the other has been mentioned three times in passing. We don’t really CARE about them. Even the bits which could have been funny like the pet funeral were played very straight, no real humour there at all.

Now, pointing out the lack of humour doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the read… just that this is being billed as something it’s not. If you’re picking it up looking for something light-hearted to make you laugh, this is really not that book. And as I said, I didn’t particularly like Nina’s love interest… but the romance isn’t the major theme of the book. What this REALLY is, is a very good women’s fiction coming-of-age story as Nina finds her niche and builds her own success. It just seems to be being marketed all wrong, and it’s going to get panned in a lot of reviews because of that. I’m going to give it five stars for the book it actually is… just don’t be expecting a rom com.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via Rachel’s Random Resources.

Author Bio – As a former journalist, broadcaster and advertising copywriter, Karen Ross has followed a fairly traditional path into writing fiction. Five Wakes and a Wedding is her fourth book, and like its predecessors, the novel has two common threads: the setting is London’s Primrose Hill – Karen’s own neighbourhood – and one of the characters is a dog . . . this time he’s called Chopper and he’s almost the same size as a Shetland Pony.

Karen has been self-employed for many years, and continues to work as a marketing consultant, in the absence of an offer to manage Tottenham Hotspur. By way of credentials, her other ‘job’ is trading profitably on the world’s first football stockmarket, a platform called Football Index, where you buy and sell players with real money.

Social Media Links – @ComedyKaren

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