'A refreshingly original meditation... I wish I had written it myself' Literary Review
Graveyards are oases: places of escape, peace and reflection. Liminal sites of commemoration, where the past is close enough to touch. Yet they also reflect their living community - how in our restless, accelerated modern world, we are losing our sense of connection to the dead.
Jean Sprackland - the prize-winning poet and author of Strands - travels back through her life, revisiting her once local graveyards. In seeking out the stories of those who lived and died there, remembered and forgotten, she unearths what has been lost.
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.
Cemetery tales, filled with fascinating details and told with a poet’s skill… Delightfully 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.
Shot through with delightful digressions… There is a spare beauty to Sprackland’s prose… These Silent Mansions is a strange and mercurial book; hard to pin down, but even harder to forget.
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.
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.