Review of Ann Marie Hourihane’s novel Sorry For Your Trouble: A miraculous look at the Irish way of death.
This warm, dryly funny book provides a historical overview of changing dying rituals.
We meet a terminally ill woman named Bernie early on in Ann Marie Hourihane’s Sorry For Your Trouble, as she spends her final days in a hospice surrounded by friendly staff and her adoring children.
She appears to be a remarkable woman, outspoken, funny, and unconcerned about her impending death.
Indeed, she takes a proactive approach to all of the arrangements, writing letters to be read out to her loved ones on the day of her funeral, and even insisting that everyone in attendance wear bright colors, preferably turquoise.
Bernie’s physical condition gradually deteriorates, and we watch as she becomes thinner and slower until she passes away surrounded by her family.
But this isn’t the end of the story.
We watch as her body is washed by nurses, see her family make funeral plans, and hear from the crematorium, where the humanist celebrant, flanked by men in turquoise ties, says Bernie’s initial inquiry was “the first time I got a phone call from someone who was arranging their own funeral.”
It’s a stunning first chapter, tracing the tragedy and absurdities of an ordinary death with an almost miraculous grace.
This is just the first of many miracles that Hourihane will perform.
The Irish Way of Death interweaves individual deaths, funerals, and experiences like Bernie’s with historical overviews of changing Irish death rituals, as well as those of people from more remote parishes who have made their lives, and deaths, in modern Ireland.
The “wake amusements” of old delve into the history of enlivening funeral services with card games and bawdy pantomimes in a bravura section.
Many of these raunchy amusements were raunchy and even highly sexualised, to the point where “the indulgences of holy sorrow… [are]converted into orgies of unholy joy,” according to one disapproving contemporary witness.
Hourihane can use death’s inevitability to examine people of all classes, cultures, and backgrounds, addressing issues such as infirmity, suicide, and disease, as well as gang wars, abortion rights, and drug addiction.
Her personal style is.
UK news summary from Infosurhoy
Review of Ann Marie Hourihane’s Sorry For Your Trouble: A miraculous look at the Irish way of death