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The Cemetery Keeper's Wife

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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  405 ratings  ·  100 reviews
What happens when the line between the past and the present begins to blur...

Rachel Miller is on the cusp of a new life when she moves to Union Cemetery after marrying Adam, the 7th generation cemetery keeper. Though she's known him only twelve weeks, his tender love seems like a miracle of fate after her years alone.

On her first walk through the lush and silent grounds of
...more
Paperback, Advanced Reader Copy, 362 pages
Published May 8th 2018 by Three Women Press
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Sue Frances Ruth Hogans book, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, has a lot about the Victorian Cemetery in it. I loved this book but a lot of the time I read it with …moreRuth Hogans book, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes, has a lot about the Victorian Cemetery in it. I loved this book but a lot of the time I read it with a lump in my throat.(less)
Wanda I noticed this book right away in my local library. It was placed on display along with the new books and the title definitely caught my eye. I spend …moreI noticed this book right away in my local library. It was placed on display along with the new books and the title definitely caught my eye. I spend a lot of time in cemeteries taking photos and just leisurely walking around. Many times I've found interesting stones or something written on them that makes me want to do a bit of research on the people to find out what their life may have been like. I love a mystery!(less)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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Karen Kay
I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review.

Set in duo timelines, current day Rachel Miller becomes obsessed with the rape and murder of Tillie Smith in 1886. Researching and understanding what happened to Tillie provides a type of catharsis to the rape Rachel endured nearly 20 yrs before.

Well written. After finishing the book, I realized that it was based on real history.

3.75 rounded up to 4☆
Celia
This is a well-researched book about a real-life event: the brutal death of Matilda (Tillie) Smith on April 8, 1886.

Maryann McFadden grew up in New Jersey, site of the murder, and was forever impacted by the sight of the huge monument to Ms. Smith in Hackettstown's Union Cemetery. It held the simple epitaph: “She died in defense of her honor.” Maryann knew she had to tell this story.

The story starts in 2014 where we meet Rachel Adams, newly married to Adam, who is the Cemetery Keeper of the same
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Deanne Patterson
Not until I as completely done with this book did I realize this book is a recreation of happened to a teenage servant in the late 1800's. I really enjoyed this book, a lot! Reading this brought out so many emotions in me! It takes place in two time periods, modern times and the late 1800's. Adam is a seventh generation cemetery keeper and he is newly married. His wife, Rachel had a traumatic experience 18 years ago when she was 18. She has not been able to heal from this and carries her scars w ...more
Maranda
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This is a memorial book of the murder of Tillie Smith on April 8 1886! McFadden takes a journey reveling the similarities of modern day Rachel Miller with the life struggles of Tillie Smith. Pages immortalize these two women's struggles to overcome events that set in stone their destiny. Loved the portrayal of the peacefulness of the cemetery that Rachel's husband Adam takes care of. In depth characters make this book a must read. The Past does control our future but can also lead to healing in ...more
Ghost of the Library
****Spoiler Alert****


I have to admit to not knowing very well how to approach a review of this one...maybe i should start by saying, it certainly wasn't what i expected!
This was borrowed from the library totally on account of the tittle - books that take place,even if partially only, in a cemetery ...call me morbid, but yes please!
However i ended up confronting some ghosts of my own while reading the real life based story of Tillie Smith and her brutal end - and btw, i had no idea this was a rea
...more
Caroline
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have read all of Maryann's novels and find her stories engaging and always relatable. Her first work of historic fiction, The Cemetery Keeper's Wife connects the story of Tillie Smith - a young woman who was raped and murdered in Hackettstown, NJ, more than 100 a century ago with that of Rachel Miller who is struggling to heal from her own tragedy. The two women's lives couldn't have been more different yet they both found themselves at the mercy of the men in their worlds. Rachel's need for A ...more
Julie
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What appeals to me about The Cemetery Keeper's Wife is the writing style. McFadden weaves a story so well that the reader is unaware that she is being hurled back and forth. Seamless and smooth, the novel beautifully describes Tillie's plight as a young "potato peeler" given a chance - so she dreams - of lifting herself from the depths of poverty and ignorance. When tragedy strikes, and the media storms the small rural town outside of New York City in Hackettstown, New Jersey, what's missing is ...more
Kellie
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I went to Centenary College (now University) and was always curious about Tillie. My friends and I would go to the front parlors late at night and see if we could see her ghost. We would go and visit her grave. She is a legend.

This was a very well written story and very thought out. I recommend this to anyone, but especially to anyone who went or goes to Centenary and knows about Tillie.
Maureen Weir
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Cemetery Keeper's Wife held my attention from start to finish. Many issues were interwoven throughout the book: poverty, educational disparity, violent crime,sexual assault, women's issues, alcoholism, marital communication, in-law interaction, self-righteousness in religion, jealousy and shame.

Just the right number of characters are introduced so that the reader is not overwhelmed with keeping them in mind, but comes to know what each is about.Set in and around Hackettstown, NJ, the book ca
...more
Ginger
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite part of this book was the familiarity. I grew up within walking distance of Waterloo Village and spent alot of time there as a child. I currently live close to Hackettstown and shop there all the time. One day my husband decided to pull into the cemetery and we saw the monument to Tillie Smith and wondered what the story was. We consulted with Google and learned the background behind the monument. A few months later I saw a fellow reader post a review of this book and that prompted m ...more
Gareth Frank
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
McFadden has created an amazingly engaging story about two women separated by a century, but united by the pain of sexual assault. Her sense of setting in both era’s is perfect, and her story telling superb.
Kelly
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read all of Maryann's books and have loved them all but The Cemetery Keeper's Wife was her best yet!! Absolutely AMAZING!! Growing up in Hackettstown I've always wondered about the Tillie Smith and her story. McFadden did a phenomenal job in telling the story mixing up fact and fiction. By far the best book I've read in a long time. I could picture every detail as I read from living in Hackettstown and the descriptions of Tillie's life were as if I were living her life. I cannot wait for ...more
Joie
Jun 03, 2020 rated it liked it
While I didn't care for the main characters, Tillie's story was fascinating.
Kristine
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gripping

I could not put this book down. Ms. McFadden is a superb writer that captures her readers' attention. The plot is concise and well thought out transitioning between the past and present with ease. It is both suspenseful and heartwarming. McFadden's style of writing is descriptive but not laborious. I am only disappointed I finished the book so quickly.
Rmaguire2
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read. Just the kind of book you like to have pull you
Along. I like the connection to history.
Vicki
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent
Kathi Rosner-Gross
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book!! Knowing the history and locality in this story only added to the intrigue of this story. So well written, easily flips from 1885/6 to 2014 to tell the tales of two amazing women. If you love historical fiction this is a must read!!
Rebecca
Apr 02, 2018 marked it as to-read
Thank you to the author and the publisher for a copy won in a Goodreads giveaway! All opinions are my own.
Emily
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book, wonderfully written

A book that I just could not put down. You can tell that Maryann, the author, put a lot of time in research for this beautifully written book.
Ruthann (happycamper)
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful book. The story is well written and the transition between past and present was flawless. I could picture Tillie and her life. The story of Rachel is filled with relevant issues of today and told with caring passion. All of Maryann's books are good but I think this is the best and can't wait for ger next one.
Michelle
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Following the trend of many new books, the main character is first introduced to us through her husband’s occupation in the title. Instead of the focus being on this smart auctioneer/historian, we are introduced to her as the wife of the Cemetary Keeper. In the beginning, she is just barely that, as they have just been married. She has a secret and so does he. Instead of starting out this new path with a clean slate the author has decided that they should stumble through things trying to hide w ...more
Lady Alexandrine
Clearly this book wasn't for me. I didn't connect with any of the characters. On an intellectual level I know I should be sympathetic, but on an emotional level their struggles left me completely cold.

At the beginning, the story of Matilda "Tillie" Smith intrigued me. Tillie was a hardworking, poor girl, who was mysteriously murdered in 1886. On her tombstone the local community engraved the following words: “She Died in Defence of Her Honor”, which seemed unusual. I wanted to know her story, b
...more
Laurie
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Was there really a sort of destiny at work here?"
This novel is based on true events of a murder in 1886 of a young woman working at Centenary College, and it alternates to present day when The Cemetery Keeper's Wife gets involved. The chapter's go from the character of Tillie to the character of Rachel and are very well written.
Tillie's brutal murder was thought to be solved years ago, but when Rachel marries a man who has the job as a Cemetery Keeper in Hackettstown, NJ and sees this beautiful
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Colleen
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
A lovely little semi-ghost story that goes back in time between the late 1800's and the present. The setting, the house and cemetery, and the entire storyline in the 1800's is absolutely lovely.

I didn't care for the dialogue in the present, and the main character (whose name I have forgotten in the two weeks since I've read the book) is sort of annoying and dramatic. I liked what the author was trying to do with the parallels between the sexual assaults and the timely accusations of assault agai
...more
Helen Manoli
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Well written book could not put it down the characters were developed dlowly which made the book more interesting could not have forseen the ending.
Maria
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have to give this book more of a 4.5 as opposed to a 4. The book itself has an eerie title, one that most would shy away from. However, upon reading the synopsis of the book, I knew that this was one that I would be interested in reading. I was impressed with how well the author had researched the events surrounding the murder and trial of Tillie Smith. I had not known about this particular incident, which happened in 1886; something that surprised and shocked me. I loved how the author ...more
Wanda
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I noticed this book right away in my local library. It was placed on display along with the new books and the title definitely caught my eye. I spend a lot of time in cemeteries taking photos and just leisurely walking around. Many times I've found interesting stones or something written on them that makes me want to do a bit of research on the people to find out what their life may have been like. So I can relate to Rachel in that regard. I love a mystery!
There are two reasons I gave this 4-sta
...more
Sandy
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why this book hasn't been read by more people is something of a puzzle for me. I enjoyed this book very much. It's based on the true story of Tillie Smith from the 1880's. She was brutally raped and murdered at the age of 19.
The story switches back and froth from Tillie's time to present day time. Rachel, also a victim of rape, stumbles across Tillie's story and immediately feels a connection to Tillie. Rachel is compelled to discover what truly happened to Tillie, so she can set Tillie's soul
...more
Leslie
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was especially interested in this book since I work where it’s set, and the story of Tillie is a well known historical mystery. The author’s use of parallel plots and timelines adds to the tension and drama inherent in Tillie’s story, making the characters realistic and likable.

Mcfadden does more than keep the reader’s interest as she slowly builds to the inevitable conclusion, creating both curiosity and empathy along the way. Her writing brings to life late nineteenth century NJ quite vivid
...more
Dawn
When Rachel Miller moves into Union Cemetery with her new husband, Adam, a seventh generation keeper, she discovers a stunning monument to a girl named Tillie Smith, who died in 1886. The beautiful marble monument is unlike any other, and the inscription makes her pause: “She died in defence of her honor.”
Rachel’s curiosity turns into an obsession. But she has no idea that her quest to discover the truth about Tillie’s life, and brutal death, will open the door to secrets she herself has been hi
...more
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Maryann McFadden is the author of THE CEMETERY KEEPER'S WIFE, which debuts May 2018. Her previous 3 novels, THE RICHEST SEASON, SO HAPPY TOGETHER, and THE BOOK LOVER, are all American Bookseller Association Indie Next Picks. and have been translated into multiple languages.

In 2007 Maryann "won the literary lottery" when her originally self-published novel, THE RICHEST SEASON, sold at auction and w
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