I am ashamed to admit that I did not read My Mother’s Chamomile by Suzie Finkbeiner when it first came out. I really can’t remember why, but then it got pushed to the bottom of the TBR list and I just never got around to it. (Sorry Susie!) Until now. Simply put, I am sorry I waited this long to read it. If you haven’t read it, go out and buy a copy right now and read it.
Chamomile is a beautifully written story of a family who runs the only funeral home in the little town of Middle Main, Michigan. I see several small towns represented in Middle Main, mostly because they all have some things in common. Everyone is in everyone else’s business. What might seem like a town gossip is someone who will be the first to lend a helping hand. A day off to the big city is a reminder why you live in that little town and have no urge to live anywhere else.
The Eliot family has, for over 50 years, helped local families through one of the toughest times a family can face: the loss of a loved one. Whether because of a tragic accident or disease or old age, they have stood quietly by the sides of any and all who have come. It has also caused a toll on the family, the grandkids find it difficult to make friends and no one has been on a vacation in years, but they are very good at what they do.
The story is told through the eyes of Olga, the matriarch of the family and Evelyn, one of Olga’s granddaughters. These are two very different perspectives and that in and of itself helps make this story so very special. With Olga you have the perspective of someone who loves her family and is very secure in what they do for a living. She married into the funeral business and has no problem ministering to the town, though she would probably like a little more uninterrupted time with her husband over the years.
With Evelyn you get the perspective of what it was like to be born into a family business that can be a bit scary for other kids in town. This was something I never would have thought of. I think that is what struck me so much about this book, is what it made me think about. Not only what was it like to have a family business like the Eliot’s, but also relationships and what it means to walk to the end with someone. I don’t want to say too much more about this book as I am afraid to give something away, but know that this little book is well worth the stop by.
I was worried about finding a book that would make me cry for my book challenge, well I don’t have to look any farther. Not out loud weeping, but a few tears running down my face? Yes, and several moments of choking up. That is a rare thing for me and yet it is one of the things that made me love this book even more.