94,000 words, 384 pages, 65 Chapters, 8hrs 40mins to read
Published by Viking
4.13 out of 5 on Goodreads
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5
What is The Best Way to Bury Your Husband About?
During the Covid pandemic the protagonist, Sally, accidentally-on-purpose killed her husband, Jim, with her granny’s skillet. Jim was a mediocre man who inflicted two decades of violence, self-blame, and shame onto Sally leaving her at the breaking point where we pick up the story. It soon turns out that three other women in the area are in very similar situations as domestic abuse spikes during lockdown.
The narrative predominantly unfolds through Sally’s perspective but also delves into the lives of the other three women, as they attempt to dodge nosey neighbours, adjust to strict lockdown rules and figure out the best way to bury their husbands.
This is mainly told through a darkly humorous and entertaining lens but ultimately touches on some very deep themes and shines more light on the important issue of domestic abuse.
“”It is hard to be a clever woman. Men may claim to admire us, but they don’t. Not when it makes them feel small in comparison. And heaven forfend that they should do their share of the work in the home because we wish to do our share outside of it.”
– Alexia Casale, The Best Way to Bury Your Husband
What’s Bad About The Best Way to Bury Your Husband?
Like we often do, we’ll start with the bad. For me the plot execution wasn’t done as well as it could have been. Hear me out as this is difficult to explain but definitely won’t be a major problem for everyone. Sorry if this is a bit nit-picky.
The best way to summarise this is that the core of the story didn’t feel as believable as it probably should have done.
For example, there just happens to be four irredeemably abusive husbands who have all been killed by their partners within a very short time span and within four miles of each other. It’s a kind of absurd starting point, which is okay, but a lot of the book and its themes are so grounded in reality that it felt to me as though the absurdity of the situation was distracting. Then as things progressed, many situations and solutions the characters encountered felt unnatural and things kind of just fell into place.
So I think this is the best way I can describe it: Any story is bound by the rules of its own universe and this story is bound by reality. There are only so many convenient coincidences used to help the plot progress that a story can have before it takes the reader out of the world it’s built, and for me there were a few too many in this book to overlook. So this led to distractions that sometimes diverted me from all the good. Which I’ll get onto now!
What’s Good About The Best Way to Bury Your Husband?
The main thing I will praise about this book is how enjoyable it is to read. The writing itself was quick and flowed well. The characters were good fun, their growing friendships expanded fairly naturally and all of the main characters coming together to fix their problem was fun to experience. There’s something that works so well about a group of different people that have to come together to solve a common problem, and this book executed that very well. Some of the characters themselves were nicely fleshed out, I think Sally was well written and the people close to her such as her children were believable and fit her story well. The other women that made up the four main characters were not as well developed and I was hoping we’d get more on the relationship between Sally and Janey as it was mentioned a lot during the build up chapters at the start. But it was still enough for a satisfying read.
The pacing was also very good. There were moments where the story would take a serious turn and there would be excellent explanations of why some partners can’t ‘just leave them’, and just when you needed it, there would be a more lighthearted section to balance it out and move the story along to the next plot point.
I could also see this being turned into a film and I think it would make a great adaptation for the big screen! I started to think of the film, Keeping Mum, whilst reading as I feel like the tones are pretty similar.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable book that sheds light on a distressing reality. It does it with a lighthearted tone that captivates readers while effectively conveying its messages. It’s not without its flaws though, with sometimes unbelievable plot points and slightly weak characterisation that may take some readers out of the story, like it did for me. But I believe the people that will take the most from this book will very easily be able to overlook that and instead focus on how well it illustrates that with the support of friends and belief in yourself, survival becomes achievable.
Expected publication date: 14 Mar 2024