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John Gregory Brown
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Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery/Large Print

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3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  127 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Moving back and forth in time from the 1930s to the 1960s to the present, this luminous first novel uncovers the heartbreaking legacy of the Eagen family of New Orleans, Irish Catholics of "mixed blood" in a city where race defines fate. A haunting novel of family loyalty and relations between the races.
Hardcover, Large Print, 353 pages
Published January 1st 1994 by G. K. Hall & Company
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Sara Seyfarth
Jul 17, 2008 Sara Seyfarth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a slow read, but it's worth it. It's lyrical and beautiful and moving. It grabs you and immerses you in this family's experience in a way that few novels do. I still have a physical memory of it, like reading the book left an actual imprint on my skin.
Marilyn Saul
I bogged down early in the first chapter of this book. The writing was stilted, long, winding sentences filled with comma-trapped clauses. I thought "How am I going to make it through this whole book with this writing style?" Then, as the protagonist actually starts her narrative, I realized the 1st chapter conveyed exactly the hesitation, reluctance, and doubt surrounding telling one's story. And what a story it is!! Maybe some people will call it a "coming of age" book, but I find that phrase ...more
Melee
Dec 10, 2011 Melee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With lustrous prose and fresh yet familiar characters, John Gregory Brown has masterfully told a story that slowly slips up and wraps its arms around you wholly. I wish... there was something I could say to describe how I felt reading this book or what made it so matchless, but nothing is coming. Both John Gregory Brown and his wife Carrie deserve more merit, as they are both supremely superb writers, but woefully obscure.
Maxine
Jan 21, 2009 Maxine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous! Couldn't put it down. Lyrical and tender. Already ordered the "The Wrecked Blessed Body of Shelton LaFleur' by John Gregory Brown. He's bound to be one of my favorites.
Donna
Sep 19, 2014 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review by Ron Carter, Richmond Times-Dispatch: ". . . A finely wrought tale...A story that unlocks its secrets like a chinese box, each hidden compartment opening to reveal yet another, until, at the end, we stand aghast at the complexity of what lies before us."

This story is mostly told by Meredith Eagen in retrospect as a 12 year old girl, with some of the story told by Murphy, a black man who had worked for the family, and through some letters written by Catherine, Meredith's stepmother. I l
...more
Daisy
Dec 10, 2013 Daisy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daisy by: Maggie Causey
Just gorgeous.
I read this slowly for a change (because I'm knitting again), just pieces at night instead of all in one big gulp like I usually do. Maybe I will remember it better that way because I don't want to forget this one.
It has to do with collapse, literally and figuratively. Structures break or crumble: bridges, statues, families. There is so much love in this story, it hurts.


Once you have given in to silence, it's sometimes nearly impossible to get yourself to break it...

How is it, I
...more
Cleo
This story tells of the Eagens, a New Orleans family of "mixed blood." There are three narrators in the story: Meredith, whose father takes her and her brother away from her stepmother, Catherine, the stepmother, who writes letters to Meredith, and Murphy Warrington, an old black man who worked for the family. The narrators recall "a story that unlocks its secrets like a Chinese box, each hidden compartment opening to reveal yet another, until, at the end, we stand aghast at the complexity of wh ...more
Rachel
May 14, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of a family and how the information they withhold from each other leads to their slow unraveling over generations. The prose is lyrical, yet not flowery, the structure just intricate enough to enfold the multiple points of view. I enjoyed every minute of this read.
Linda
Jan 21, 2015 Linda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started slow, picked up after 1st chapter but never really went anywhere.
Paul
Jul 10, 2011 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a surprise; recommended by a friend I had never heard of this writer. The book is about family love loss betrayal race religion; you name it. The story has simplicity and is yet complex and the issues it deals with are big ones. The importance of place runs throughout. A marvellous book in my opinion a neglected classic; very moving and very thought provoking. I read it last year and it stayed with me. I don't want to run through the plot; just read it.
Jeff
Aug 01, 2008 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So many of us have lived life like this... After reading this book set in New Orleans about a disfunctional childhood... I have met many people that bring this fiction to fact. Very moving
Jeannie
I have to admit that I kept turning pages with this book - but I felt that the description of the relationship between the handyman/helper and the central family was highly romanticized.
Carol
Jan 07, 2013 Carol marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/11628532
Fran
Mar 16, 2009 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People, place and who are they really. My favorite kind of read.
Susan
Jan 23, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating story of family told in a most unique way.
Susan
Jan 04, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lovely story of identity and forgiveness
Melissa Reiker
Mar 21, 2008 Melissa Reiker is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Seems like maybe I've read this before . . .
Gretchen
Aug 16, 2014 Gretchen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely exquisite.
Linda
Jun 30, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written!
Meg
novel,1st edition,Signed
Kat
Kat marked it as to-read
Feb 11, 2016
Nancy Russo
Nancy Russo rated it it was amazing
Feb 07, 2016
Jenn M
Jenn M marked it as to-read
Feb 03, 2016
Mark Watkins
Mark Watkins marked it as to-read
Feb 01, 2016
Jeanette
Jeanette marked it as to-read
Jan 31, 2016
G.J. Minett
G.J. Minett rated it it was amazing
Jan 31, 2016
Felicien
Felicien rated it really liked it
Jan 20, 2016
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Born and raised in New Orleans, John Gregory Brown is the author of the novels Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery; The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur; and Audubon’s Watch. His fourth novel, A Thousand Miles from Nowhere, will be published by Lee Boudreaux Books, an imprint of Little Brown & Co., in June 2016.
His honors include a Lyndhurst Prize, the Lillian Smith Award, the John Stein
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“There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself.” 4 likes
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