Cemetery Reflections – Editorial Review

 

Title: Cemetery Reflections

Author: Jane Hopkins

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Art and Photography

 

As human beings, we have learned from a young age to use words to express ourselves. We use words to communicate, to convey our needs and wants, and as an outlet for the complexities of our thoughts and emotions. However, on occasion, we find ourselves in situations where words fail to encapsulate the depth of feelings that accompanies overwhelming joy…or unimaginable sorrow. Such is the inspiration behind Cemetery Reflections, a collection of photographs taken from historical cemeteries across America.

Every picture in this book was a story in itself: emotions etched in stone, poetry in the curve of a line, in the back of a statue bent in mourning, in the closed eyes of a cherub that stood over the grave of a child. The prologue is in the way the light hits the morning grass as the sun rises over a cemetery, and the absence of it as dusk settles over another provides a perfect ending.

The author wasn’t afraid to express her point of view through these images. She didn’t sanitize the dark quality of her subject matter but handled it with recognition, empathy, and respect. The photos leap off the pages and force its audience to feel and reflect. However, in a subject as emotive as death and dying, one can’t help but wonder whether a more personal approach would have added to the audience’s experience with this book.

Grief is such a powerful, emotive experience, and although the carefully curated selection of poetry and prose was a good complement to the pictures, they felt a little bit detached. Perhaps if the author had prefaced each section or chapter with her personal experience of loss, or something in her own words, readers have formed a more direct connection with her and the book.

The power of the written word alongside the evocative pictures would have made a bigger impact on the readers and perhaps even open a healthy discussion of an often-painful subject. That being said, the photographs were allowed to take center stage because this is a very niche book with a specific target audience in mind. The kind of readers who might pick this up will be interested in the technicalities of photography, in the interplay of light and color, and in the way each of the shots were framed.

However, when taken as a whole, this is a project that goes beyond the artistry of a beautiful shot. The whole body of work within Cemetery Reflections are a testament to the power of imagery in saying what words cannot. The author was first inspired by an inscription she read during a visit to one of the cemeteries in America: “Step lightly, for here lies a dream,” and this is what the author has achieved here: a celebration of human life, a tribute to those who have gone, and a hope that wherever they are, they wake up somewhere beautiful.

 

 

This Editorial Review was written by the Book Review Directory staff. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.

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