Saturday, 24 March 2018

Fred's Funeral by Sandy Day

Fred's Funeral by Sandy Day
Self published in November 2017.

Featured in 5Books1Theme: The Great War and one of my 2018 IndieAthon Reads

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Only at his funeral, does a family come to know a long neglected and shell-shocked soldier from WWI. Based on a true story.

Fred Sadler has just died of old age. It’s 1986, seventy years after he marched off to war, and his ghost hovers near the ceiling of the dismal nursing home. To Fred’s dismay, the arrangement of his funeral falls to his prudish and disparaging sister-in-law. As Viola dominates the remembrance of Fred, his ghost agonizes over his inability to set the record straight.

Was old Uncle Fred really suffering from shell shock? Why was he shut away for most of his life in the Whitby Hospital for the Insane? Why didn't his family help him more?

Fred’s memories of his life as a child, his family’s hotel, the War, and the mental hospital, clash with Viola’s version of events as the family gathers on a rainy October night to pay their respects.

Fred's Funeral is a charming novella exploring mental health and its treatments through the life of a Canadian WWI veteran, Fred Sadler. Sandy Day used the real-life letters of her relative as the inspiration for this fictional account so I felt a strong sense of authenticity throughout the story. We first meet Fred's spirit inexplicably still hanging around at his funeral although he has already caught a glimpse of an afterlife to which he is keen to go. His wishes ignored through most of his life, this seems little changed in death except now he can at least show us, the readers, what he believes to be the truth of his life while his sister-in-law, Viola, recounts alternate versions to the gathered family members.

I think Fred was probably suffering from PTSD, shellshock as it was back in the 1910s and 1920s, and the condition remained untreated during his life because it wasn't understood. His bursts of antisocial behaviour couldn't be accommodated within his family so Fred finds himself in and out of an insane asylum for decades, a shameful half-secret. We see how attitudes change over the decades and with different generations. I appreciated Day's allowing Fred to tell his story in all its uncertainty and confusion. This man doesn't understand himself any more than his family does and I found his predicament very poignant. This is a lovely, thoughtful story.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Sandy Day / Novellas / Books from Canada


  1. What an interesting story. I have a soft spot in my heart for those suffering from PTSD. Even today with all of the advances we've made, some people refuse to understand it, despite ample evidence.

    1. We've advanced quite a way in treatments, but there's still so much more to understand

  2. This sounds interesting, especially since the author used real life letters as inspiration. It's sad how those with mental illness were treated in the past (and in some ways how they still are treated). But the way this is written does make it sound poignant and thoughtful.

    1. I was impressed with this one. Having accepted the book to review on a whim, I had no idea what to expect, but it's great :-)