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The Funeral Makers
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The Funeral Makers

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  250 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Meet the residents of Mattagash, Maine, a dull backwater town where nothing is what it seems.

This is the story of the trials that beset the McKinnons, the first family of Mattagash, Maine, when they try to arrange a funeral for the family matriarch. At the heart of the novel are the three McKinnon sisters: Marge, the one who is dying; Pearl, the one who left town; Sicily,
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 6th 1997 by Scribner Book Company (first published 1986)
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"There's no starting over in Mattagash," she thought, "and they never let your children forget, or your grandchildren. You don't get a second chance here." And she wondered why they had even bothered to form a historical society when the minds in Mattagash were all bulging museums open to the public year round, and inherited by those not even born yet."

Welcome to Mattagash, Maine, a town founded in the 1800s by a small band of illogical men and women. Now at the tail end of the 1950s, logic sti
The strange thing about this book is how much I enjoyed reading it but that I am at a loss as how to describe it in this review. I can't even think what I could compare it to. It is not quite like anything I have read before. I don't think the blurbs on the back of the book do it justice. Reading those alone, I would never have selected this book. It was highly recommended to me by a friend whose opinion I trust. I thought maybe if I read some Good Reads reader reviews, something there might bri ...more
Barksdale Penick
I believe I started this book many years ago and was put off by the absurdist humor at the beginning. This time I again found it slow going at first but as events marched on the drive and structure of the plot came clear, and I found lovely observations about life, about sadness and disappointment, and how the passing of time lowers people's expectations, goals and hopes. But the book isn't bleak or hopeless, as the characters come to accept these changes and better understand themselves and the ...more
I found Pelletier's The Funeral Makers a bit like Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone…however, unlike Mr. Keillor’s Minnesota residents, you get the feeling that in Mattagash, Maine, things are not going to work out as well. And they don’t.
So, first I laughed. And then there were tears. Why, oh why, are all the books I read lately making me cry?
Robert Rodi
This is the first in Cathie Pelletier's wonderful series about life in rural Mattagash, Maine (an analogue for her own Allagash, if I recall correctly), which continues to this day. It's cripplingly funny and wonderfully lyrical, and it's been out of print for a lonnng time, so it's hugely satisfying to see it back in a beautiful new trade dress along with its immediate sequels, A WEDDING ON THE BANKS and THE WEIGHT OF WINTER. There are characters and situations in these novels that will never, ...more
4.5 An impending death in a tiny town on the border of Maine and Canada is the lynchpin for a tale of several families. Inbred, dysfunctional or family of one - broken people, all, with broken dreams. I didn't really enjoy the meta-tone of the ending, and every time I set it aside I had to steel myself to re-enter their lives, yet... I honestly can't find fault with this book. Disturbing and subtly humorous throughout - usually simultaneously - this is incredibly good story telling.
Funny, slightly bizarre, and memorable characters. Not to mention memorable diseases that rhyme and sound like Pez flavors... you really can't go wrong with this light and quirky novel. I wish it had been a little bit more structured, and it tends to jump around the family tree a little bit but overall, it was enjoyable.
May 18, 2014 Ashley-Marie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I received this copy from Goodreads First Reads.
It's good, but really REALLY weird. I'm enjoying the narrative, the McKinnons, Giffords, the drunks, the bored housewives and everyone in between. The author moves from the little histories of its minor characters to the unsettling feelings of the books main characters.

The book follows the lives of three sisters, each middle aged with very different lives. Pearl lives in the city and has married into a family of funeral directors. She's coming ba
Well-written novel that balances humor with tragedy which is difficult to manage!
Really did not like the characters.
Leslie Bulion
I enjoyed how this author gave us a window into the life of a dying character through her own memories and through the lives and interactions of family and friends around her. I finished the book feeling the main character was a person well-worth knowing, and her sisters were also heroes in living the lives they'd been dealt. Engaging and evocative, with conversations and images staying with me beyond the reading.
"irreverent, comic, tragic, lyrical". YES! it read like watching the Skagit river bridge collapsing right in front of you; and took me back to my childhood and the annual migration to the Memorial Day family reunion in Oregon. what an interesting look into the backwoods of NW Maine that seemed 50 years behind their closest community neighbor; and the characters that such a community creates.
I read The One Way Bridge and really enjoyed it so I googled Cathie Pelletier and discovered her 1st novel was published in the 1980's. I immediately headed for our local library and checked out The Funeral Makers, where I was introduced to the residents of Mattagash..."characters: in every sense of the word. Funny and touching...looking forward to reading Once Upon a Time on the Banks.
The earliest of Pelletier's Mattagash trilogy is an enjoyable, not too grim introduction to her wry humor and acerbic take on a Peyton Place-like town with its prejudices, social divisions, and requisite lowlifes. Reminiscent of Carolyn Chute's work as well.
Marge, the oldest of three Southern sisters, is dying of beriberi (of all things) and a reunion is planned to see her off to the other side. This is a funny and dark tale with memorable characters.
Great book, especially for Maine-ophiles. Very funny in places, thought provoking in others, and sad in others.
Kathy Sheehhan
Good read. The cast of characters is entertaining and keeps you interested on what is going to happen next.
Bonnie Kerr
This book had some very funny parts to it, but overall it was very sad. For me it was depressing
One of the most under-rated books and authors in recent memory. Read her, please
hilarious and heartbreaking but so much truth about families and home...
Honestly, I don't remember reading this back in 2000. I think I liked it.
I grew up in New England, this author knows what she's talking about.
Martye Jeffords
If you want to laugh oout loud - read this
At times I nearly peed myself laughing.
Ted Parkhurst
What a wonderfully inventive writer!
funny book about a family that descends to a town in Maine for a funeral
Christine marked it as to-read
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