Reviews

  • "A wide-ranging, unpredictable and refreshingly original meditation on a huge but widely ignored subject: the relationship between the living and the dead… Exhilarating… This is a lovely book: beautifully written, never lapsing into self-conscious ‘poet’s prose’, always a joy to read. I wish I had written it myself."

    Nigel Andrew, Literary Review
  • "Cemetery tales, filled with fascinating details and told with a poet’s skillDelightfully morbid… Sprackland roves about history, language, biology, architecture, entomology, iconography and much else in her quest for meaning… [and] the astonishing twist…should justify your reading These Silent Mansions in its entirety."

    Anthony Quinn, Guardian
  • "Shot through with delightful digressionsThere is a spare beauty to Sprackland’s proseThese Silent Mansions is a strange and mercurial book; hard to pin down, but even harder to forget."

    Lucy Scholes, i
  • "Sprackland has the poet’s knack for atmosphere and a magician’s ability to conjure up other worlds. She is like a ghostly time traveller… Sprackland is particularly agile, though, at exploring the ways in which a graveyard reflects its community and how, with modern life, we are losing this sense of connection."

    Ann Treneman, The Times
  • "Part social history, part personal meditation and wholly enchanting - as attentive to local and moving details as it is to the fact of mortality itself."

    Andrew Motion
  • "Award-winning poet Sprackland takes a wonderfully wistful tour of her favourite cemeteries... A fascinating read."

    Eithne Farry, Sunday Express
  • "To opened ground and graven stone Jean Sprackland brings a poet’s scrutiny and the archivist’s insatiable curiosity. She disinters the humanity buried in the humus; and how, as fungus and algae make the lichen bloom, the living and the dead must share the several geographies of time and memory, identity and story. These Silent Mansions, like silence “beyond silence listened for”, rings remarkable and true."

    Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking
  • "Part memoir, part nature study and part social history, Sprackland returns in this sensitive and unusual book to the graveyards of the towns and villages where she has lived… [Sprackland] connects us to the forgotten lives of those whose names, like Ebenezer and Chastity, are now eaten by moss and lichen…[and] discovers the tales…[of] collective history."

    Frances Wilson, Mail on Sunday
  • "A deeply pleasurable blend of poetic anthropology… against the inevitable forces of erasure, this small book serves as an act of defiance."

    Claire Allfree, Evening Standard
  • "This gentle journey around England’s graveyards is anything but morbid. Jean Sprackland, who is also an award-winning poet, is less interested in death than in the stories that the departed have left behind: the lives and deeds remembered in stone and the way that churchyards help us situate ourselves in time and space… Wise, compassionate and involving."

    Stephanie Cross, Lady