This was a book club read for me, too, and I will ditch this thing after reading 28 pages. I never read reviews ahead of time when it's a book club choice, but after deciding not to finish, I couldn't wait to get to the reviews. They did not disappoint. CLOYING is the perfect description above all others, which include pretentious, phony, overbearing, preachy, ridiculous, not to mention a huge insult to even a little bit of intelligence. I wish I didn't have to be so harsh, but this book was incredibly annoying right from the start. I'd like to give the author the benefit of the doubt and believe that she was well intentioned, but there is nothing even slightly realistic about this story.
Although this is a beautifully written story I found it somewhat repetitive after about 75% of the read. It's an ideal account of women taking care of women with a fair amount of question tossed in between. Maybe I'm jaded but I found after a while it was hard to believe. Yes, Annie Freeman was an obviously wonderful women but she had faults and made mistakes even if this book tries to portray her as somewhat of a saint. I found it difficult to believe there are nurturing women all over the place who fulfilled her wishes in the ways they did and still remained human. I wanted more mistakes or realities. I wanted more believability. On my proverbial scale of 1-10, I'd rank this about a 7 and no more. Sweet tale but I question its authenticity.
...Carpe Diem. The premise was intriguing: 5 women take the ashes of their recently deceased friend to various places she has pre-arranged and scatter her remains. Except for the prolonged, tedious exploding bra incident, the author does a good job of describing the main characters and the potential is there for some great dialogue and interaction. Then she drops the ball and the rest of the book is an everlasting sermon about "living like you are dying", to quote a familiar song. There are reports of flaws and conflicts within the group, but nothing solid. On the contrary, they all drink spend the trip drinking crates of wine, waxing philosophical about their late friend's life, hugging and kissing each other, and launching on impossible "adventures", usually sponsored by some mysterious, incredibly generous men. Then they all live happily ever after. Sorry, but I stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. I skipped whole pages of pontificating just to get to the end of the book. Oh, and the digs at George W. Bush were unnecessary. Other political subjects and figures were generalized, and no one else was mentioned by name, so it was very jarring to have the author insert herself into the story in that way. I just can't recommend this book to anyone over 16 without insulting his or her intelligence.
I read this for my book club, and I was disappointed in the selection because the book did not sound like something I would want to read. However, I've been pleasantly surprised before, and I hoped at least for a quick few hours of entertainment, if not enlightenment. I was disappointed that the book could not even meet my already low expectations. The book has zero character development, no real plot to make up for the absence of character development, and the dialogue is wooden, stilted and far from what any real person would ever say. The non-developed characters are all basically the same character, and they're all ridiculous and unbelievable.
I paid $0.01 used on amazon, and I way overpaid. I plan to throw the book in the trash, as I don't want some poor soul to stumble across it and read it. Their time would be better used staring at a blank wall for a few hours.
The plot line is intriguing, the characters full & lifelike, the messages spotlighted throughout the book are true. I saved passages that spoke to my heart and soul to continue to process later. I am even beginning to plan my own “Traveling Funeral” (albeit on a much smaller scale.)
I did not like The Run-On-Sentences. One sentence continued for 15 lines! I’m not sure if they were designed to show excitement or expand an idea or the author’s style. But I often found them confusing, and repetitive.
I still found this to be a Good Read and worthy of reading.
My daughter considers this a must-read book. It's a lot of fun for a funeral book.
Annie Freeman's friend receives an unexpected box. It is her best friend's ashes encased in the red tennis shoes Annie treasured. Annie gives detailed instructions for calling in all her friends to travel across the country, and, remarkably they all do except her hospice newest friend who feels compelled to remain with her patients for their final journey, but she stays in touch via cell phone, and joins the others toward the end of the journey.
Annie's friends are able to fill in mysterious gaps in her life traveling to the places important to Annie in her life. They are steeped in unusual forms of Nature and colorful characters Annie's knew. They make touching connections with strangers being broken open by her loss and being together. As is true with the death of someone precious to us, they are each transformed--by taking off work and daily routines, coming together, traveling together, talking and drinking all night. As an old RN and therapist, I was less enchanted with the alcohol intake night after night for health and mental health reasons. But, in my 20s I would have loved that part, too. I was also disappointed in the lack of racial diversity of the book, Annie living and dying in Northern California as she did, but the class diversity and age differences were interesting and unusual. An old woman's blooming sexuality was downright radical! (Note: yes, we do. And it's not icky. Age is kind of cool.)
This is a worthwhile book for women who want to read a next-generation feminist novel and tolerate the lack of racial diversity for the diversities mentioned before. I laughed and cried. Couldn't ask much more of a book. Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral