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Funny, heartwarming, and set in a mortuary…? All The Wrong Places

October 27, 2011

All The Wrong Places
Rebecca Fisher
Rebecca Fisher Books
327 pages
Review copy sent by Sarah Miniaci at Smith Publicity

 

 

 

As the story begins, Casey Wheeler is driving desperately through the rain, on the run from Jerry, her domineering and abusive husband. All she has is a few dollars, and the clothes she managed to grab for herself and her young daughter, Maddy. Estranged from her parents, she truly has nowhere to go.

She careens off the road in the rain and crashes her car. The only building she can see is, creepily, a mortuary, the Golden Oaks Funeral Home. She’s scared of a building full of death and corpses, but, in sheer desperation, she knocks on the door. There, she finds Merman, who works in the funeral home, and lives in an apartment attached to the mortuary. Although spooked by her surroundings, Casey is charmed by Merman, his kindness, good cooking and love for old movies. She finds herself working at the mortuary.

Casey is fragile and needs time and safety to heal. Merman, and the rest of the Golden Oaks staff become an unlikely, but essential support to Casey and Maddy. Merman teaches Maddy to dress up and act out old movies. Eddie the handyman and Oliver, a doctor working at Golden Oaks to confront his fear of death, help fend off Casey’s violent husband. Celia, wearing vintage dresses and nursing a crush on Merman, provides much needed girl talk.

The passages detailing Jerry’s cruelty and violence were hard to read. In other words, vividly written, and easy to imagine. As he pursues Casey, Jerry’s behavior gets predatory and more violently erratic. I needed the comic relief and warmth Merman provided almost as much as Casey did, after reading about Jerry’s escalating violence.

I read in the publicity materials for All The Wrong Places that it’s based on a true story. I sincerely hope Merman is real, in every detail possible: the love of movies, the cooking, working in a mortuary. Also, the exceedingly handsome Oliver. (an aside: this reminds me of the completely fictional Oliver from Comfort Food, by Kate Jacobs. I have a crush on him, too.) Some aspects of the plot read as definitely constructed fiction: Casey’s instant and consistent love at first sight for Oliver, the raid on Casey’s house to get her stuff, and of course, Casey’s dreams. Watch me find out that the bits I just mentioned are the truest parts of the events that inspired Fisher to write.

Some of the plot feels predictable, it’s true, but only in the sense of a feel-good sort of book or movie. The emotions run straightforward, and strong. Yes, it takes courage and luck to triumph over abuse and evil. Healing can happen if you have good friends supporting you. And if they’re quirky and understanding, it makes for a fun read.

And you’ve got to love the idea of enjoyable chick lit… set in a mortuary!

Later today: An excerpt from the book!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 27, 2011 7:23 am

    I would never normally have considered a book set in a mortuary to be heart-warming but this looks really good. Will definitely have a look out for this

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