After much poking and prodding from Amazon recommendations, I finally purchased the little gem of a Forgotten Book entitled simply Funeral Customs by Bertram S. Puckle. Reprinted by the organization Forgotten Books, this work is a thin volume packed with funeral customs and stodgy turn-of-the-century British values. First published in 1926, before the second World War, the book covers everything from Wake traditions to the complex art of memorial jewelry and other memento mori.
Did you know the Scotts and residents of Brittany held pancakes in high regard as funeral food? Did you know Verdi wanted nothing to do with a funeral and ended up with an opulent one with thousands of mourners? These fascinating details are scattered throughout the various sections, including one solely on how wicked the Christian churches considered cremation (the Roman Catholic church changed their stance in the late 1960’s).
Though the book is fascinating, it is certainly a dry read. Each chapter is divided into short paragraphs that are a few sentences long, but the older definitions of words and structure may slow down the modern reader who is unaccustomed to an older, more English way of reading and speaking. For those who find comfort in classic British literature, this book is a snap.