The Undertaker's Assistant

The Undertaker's Assistant

Set during Reconstruction-era New Orleans, and with an extraordinary and unforgettable heroine at its heart, The Undertaker's Assistant is a powerful story of human resilience--and of the unlikely bonds that hold fast even in our darkest moments."The dead can't hurt you. Only the living can." Effie Jones, a former slave who escaped to the Union side as a child, knows the t...

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Title:The Undertaker's Assistant
Author:Amanda Skenandore
Rating:

The Undertaker's Assistant Reviews

  • Maranda

    This is a story set in New Orleans after the Civil War. Effie Jones was a slave who escaped and lived a big part of her life in Indiana learning anatomy and the art of embalming. Looking for her roots she returns to New Orleans and experiences life on her own. Lots of action to experience in this work by Amanda Skenandore. "This book was provided by Kensington Books via NetGalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."

  • Teresa Drelick

    This is a heavy read. It starts slow and the characters seem not to have depth but as you read it becomes clear that is only because they do not have the knowledge of themselves to give that depth. Gradually you learn about many people, you learn about levels of society and how each person has a role and how to identify the roles. And because it takes place during the reconstruction era you feel the frustrations...the heaviness of the times and how that effects each and every day.

  • Patty Nobles

    In her latest novel, The Undertakers Assistant, Amanda Skenadore tells a story about life’s journey and about courage and perseverance. Effie Jones was born into slavery and at an early age she ran to what she thought was freedom. Effie was taken in by a Union captain and taken north to Indiana where she learned to become an undertaker’s assistant, Effie learned to make do with what she had until an incident forced her back to New Orleans with the hope to find where she came from. This novel is

    In her latest novel, The Undertakers Assistant, Amanda Skenadore tells a story about life’s journey and about courage and perseverance. Effie Jones was born into slavery and at an early age she ran to what she thought was freedom. Effie was taken in by a Union captain and taken north to Indiana where she learned to become an undertaker’s assistant, Effie learned to make do with what she had until an incident forced her back to New Orleans with the hope to find where she came from. This novel is set in the time after the war when the south was rebuilding and life for former slaves was sometimes more terrifying than anyone could have imagined. This novel stirred many emotions within me and I highly recommend this tapestry of words. I was given an advanced copy of this book, and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  • Lee Husemann

    Euphemia "Effie" Jones was 7 years old and was a slave. She and another slave, Jonsey ran away and she was rescued by Captain John Kinyon of the Union Army. He took her home to Indiana where she was raised and educated by Captain Kinyon and his wife. She worked alongside the Captain learning how to embalm bodies. When she is 21, she returned to New Orleans to find her roots. She got a job as an embalmer with Colonel Whitmark who seemed to like the bottle better than his business. This book drew

    Euphemia "Effie" Jones was 7 years old and was a slave. She and another slave, Jonsey ran away and she was rescued by Captain John Kinyon of the Union Army. He took her home to Indiana where she was raised and educated by Captain Kinyon and his wife. She worked alongside the Captain learning how to embalm bodies. When she is 21, she returned to New Orleans to find her roots. She got a job as an embalmer with Colonel Whitmark who seemed to like the bottle better than his business. This book drew me in from the beginning and I really enjoyed it. Effie was my favorite character. She had issues to overcome and social skills to learn. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this book that is very sad at times and then funny at other times. Overall, this is a great book.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I enjoyed Amanda Skendandore’s debut, Between Earth and Sky. She writes beautiful, sweeping historical fiction, and her latest, The Undertaker’s Assistant, also has a mystery plotline to it.

    Effie Jones is an escaped slave who made it safely to the Union as a child. She was adopted by an army surgeon and his family during the war and educated, not just with books. With war-torn bodies.

    Now that she is free, Effie has returned to the south to live in New Orleans as an embalmer. She is working for

    I enjoyed Amanda Skendandore’s debut, Between Earth and Sky. She writes beautiful, sweeping historical fiction, and her latest, The Undertaker’s Assistant, also has a mystery plotline to it.

    Effie Jones is an escaped slave who made it safely to the Union as a child. She was adopted by an army surgeon and his family during the war and educated, not just with books. With war-torn bodies.

    Now that she is free, Effie has returned to the south to live in New Orleans as an embalmer. She is working for a white man but is more skilled. Effie loves her work and she keeps to herself mostly, until she meets a state legislator and a Creole woman, Adeline, who get her involved in activism, parties, and the social set.

    Racial turmoil grows in New Orleans, including violence, and Effie has to find her footing as she experiences loss.

    The Undertaker’s Assistant is a fascinating story, and Effie’s voice was a refreshing one. I’d not known much about New Orleans during the Reconstruction, and I have to admit, Effie’s job kept me interested.

    Effie is a character to champion. She is complex and dynamic, brutally honest, driven, and captivating to watch grow. Overall, Skenandore has given us another solid work of historical fiction with a fabulous main character and an unsettling time in our nation’s history.

    I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

    My reviews can also be found on my blog:

  • Karen Kay

    I received this from Netgalley.com for a review.

    Set 11 yrs after the Civil War. Effie Jones, a former slave who escaped to the Union side as a child. She has returned south to New Orleans and earns her living as an embalmer, her steady hand and skillful incisions compensating for her employer’s shortcomings.

    It was a little rough getting into it but ended up being a very Good story. I liked Effie and how she could be so brutally honest.

    4☆

  • Jennifer

    4.5 Stars!

    I was so pleased to receive this ARC from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was even happier when I started the book and found myself engrossed in a beautiful but eye opening tale set in my favorite place - New Orleans. The author did a fantastic job with the setting and it felt very authentically New Orleans, almost as if I was there with Effie strolling along the streets that I love. New Orleans has such a romance about it, modern yet steeped in history

    4.5 Stars!

    I was so pleased to receive this ARC from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was even happier when I started the book and found myself engrossed in a beautiful but eye opening tale set in my favorite place - New Orleans. The author did a fantastic job with the setting and it felt very authentically New Orleans, almost as if I was there with Effie strolling along the streets that I love. New Orleans has such a romance about it, modern yet steeped in history and tradition, and this book does as well. Set during the Reconstruction Era, Effie, a former slave and current embalmer, has returned to New Orleans in search of her past as well as a new beginning. She begins her new life content in who and where she is until a chance encounter with an outspoken and handsome stranger sets her on a path that changes everything she thought she knew.A story of heritage and heartbreak, there is an underlying sense of sadness/morose that is so necessary to accurately portray Effie and all of the uncertainty and upheaval of the time. Honestly I loved this book, the only reason docked the rating was because the ending felt ever so slightly rushed. Otherwise, excellent book!

  • Paige

    The beginning of the story is slow to start, and required many recesses on my part in order to proceed. It was difficult to tell where the direction of the story was going at first. It seemed like one activity jumped to something unrelated. But then around 40% of the novel it picked up and I was able to attach myself.

    In this novel, the main character, Effie, reaches to answer the questions- Does emptiness feel better than pain? Is it better to be alone during life or alone after life?

    The story

    The beginning of the story is slow to start, and required many recesses on my part in order to proceed. It was difficult to tell where the direction of the story was going at first. It seemed like one activity jumped to something unrelated. But then around 40% of the novel it picked up and I was able to attach myself.

    In this novel, the main character, Effie, reaches to answer the questions- Does emptiness feel better than pain? Is it better to be alone during life or alone after life?

    The story is very dark, per the title itself, and centers around the motif of death. While the story details Effie's life as an undertaker's assistant in New Orleans as a freedman during the Reconstruction Era, she constantly affiliates her experiences to death itself not only in her thoughts, but shares these thoughts with those around her. The writing style carries dark comedy, which I found enticing and humorous. At times I found myself laughing out loud at Effie's awkward social interactions.

    This historical aspects were my favorite part. Effie is able to tell the story of the Reconstruction Era, in her own unique way as an embalmer, through the party scenes and political organizations. The sociology in Louisiana at this time are best reflected in her relationships which comprised of all shades, budgets, and walks of life. Most of the brutality and violence incorporated was researched on part by the author and is included in the epilogue.

    I recommend reading this book on the Kindle since there is profuse use of anatomical words, historical 19th century vernacular, and French spoken in this novel.

    Many thanks to NetGalley, Amanda Skenandore, and Kensington books for allowing me to read this advanced copy.

  • LadyJBookishNook

    Review coming Aug 6 on my stop of blog tour

  • Gail O'Connor

    The novel began so interesting regarding the story line but it became too wooden for me Had to put it down

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