The controlled and calm life of William Oaks is shattered when his parents die suddenly in a car crash. A reclusive paper conservator at a renowned Toronto museum, William must face the obsessions and denials that have formed him: delusional family history, religious fundamentalism, living with unhappy parents who are constantly bickering, forced starvation, secrets and get-rich-quick schemes. Memory and facts collide, threatening to derail his life and career as William feverishly prepares for an important exhibition on the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
I have to admit when the request to review Eulogy popped into my email, my first impulse was to say no. While the description was interesting, it really didn’t seem like my cup of tea at all. But I decided to take a chance on it. After all it was by a debut Canadian author, and you know I am all about supporting our writers.
Holy Lord frigging Jesus am I ever glad I decided to review it. Eulogy is a heart-wrenching book about love, family, self-doubt and dealing with all the shit that life and relatives can put you through.
I love books where there are no “good” or “bad” characters. Where there’s just people trying to do what’s best with what they have. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. And sometimes it can be really hard to tell the difference. That’s what I loved so much about Eulogy. All of the characters are damaged in some way or another and it’s just heartbreaking. And it’s real. So goddamn REAL.
The voice of the main character, William Oaks, describes his current life and the events leading up to it in such a way that it seems very non-judgmental. This lends itself a lot to Murray’s writing, which is beautifully descriptive and never delves into the cliche. Also, Oaks never dips into self pity, although there would be plenty of reason to. Because of this, Murray wrote a believable narrative through the eyes of a character that could be very skewed due to who he is and how he was brought up.
Eulogy was a fascinating read and a quick one for me. Once I started it I felt compelled to finish it. If you like books that tell an amazing story (but a difficult story to read sometimes due to the nature of the content) then Eulogy is right up your alley.