Review: Widow’s Weeds and Weeping Veils

by James Durney on April 19, 2010 · 1 comment

Widow’s Weeds and Weeping Veils
by Bernadette Loeffel-Atkins

Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Thomas Publications (2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1577471377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577471370

Dealing with death

Death is like a somewhat famous distant cousin, often in the news but one we seldom visit.  In 19th Century America death was very close, something that visited early and often an almost constant companion.  Public dealing with death is the subject of this book, the social requirements and the industry that it spawned.

The book is a series of short essays, organized as chapters, dealing with a specific item.  The Undertaker, Caskets & Coffins, Mourning Art, Mourning Jewelry and Stages of Mourning each is a chapter.  Each provides an overview of the subject with period illustrations.  This format keeps the book moving and prevents it from becoming morbid.  The author’s style is informative, conversational and easy to read.  This makes for a “fun” read in as much as the subject allows.  At no time does the author become judgmental or patronizing.  She treats the subject and the people with the respect they deserve.

This small inexpensive book is an excellent look at life about 150 years ago and will help the reader assess the impact of the Civil War.  Endnotes and a Bibliography complete the book.  “The End of an Era” looks back at mourning and our view of the custom.  The chapter states “In Victorian America, death was discussed open and honestly, but the topic of sex was considered taboo.  In the United States today, it is just the opposite.”  This is an excellent look at those days and how people found comfort in these customs.

Editor’s Note: Jim is a highly ranked reviewer of American Civil War histories on many book seller’s sites.

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