The Undertaker's Daughter

The Undertaker's Daughter

Large Print - 2015 | Large print edition
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"Kate Mayfield's first foray into nonfiction is a vivid Southern memoir that reads like a novel, about growing up in Jubilee, Kentucky as the daughter of a charismatic but troubled small-town undertaker--imagine Mad Men's Sally Draper growing up in the world of The Help"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, ©2015
Edition: Large print edition
ISBN: 9781410478948
Branch Call Number: 920.72 MAY 2015
Characteristics: 513 pages (large print)
large print


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 24, 2019

" They had created a life ritual that blurred class distinctions in the face of death, and this, supported by my rituals my father performed, taught me about empathy". A first class memoir of such literary merit that it makes one ponder if Ms. Mayfield envisioned a union between Flannery O Connor, Kathryn Stockett, Harper Lee and the dark humour of Mark Childress. This would have been their love child. Some reviewers have likened the work to Six Feet Under, but there is much more complexity at work here. This is not a simple memoir, it is a superior Southern Gothic tale of dark secrets and the thin division between life and death through the eyes of a child. To grow up in the undertaker's universe, to have life and death so intricately joined together made a memoir of unbelievable depth. It is a grim picture of the lusty South, the heat and the hell of hatred and intolerance,. It focuses on the yearnings of a rebellious, artistic young woman and her curious, conflicted relationship with her silent undertaker father. He too is filled with secrets with his veneer of respectability, his quiet sins, and his matter of fact acceptance of the inevitability of ends and beginnings. He teaches both horror and empathy to his children through his work, and the poignancy and fragility of life becomes too soon their harsh reality. His complicated relationship with the " Miss Emily" of this story, his need for someone who is as removed from the world as he is becomes his downfall and his destiny, and young Kate is drawn into his world even as she rebels against it. This is true genius here, and I believe it will take its rightful place as one of the modern Southern classics. Twisted, lusty, brimming with desire and madness and despair as well as joy, this is a book that will be remembered.

Aug 06, 2018

Set in Jubilee, Kentucky from 1959 to the early 1970s, this memoir explores growing up in a funeral home in a small, segregated community. Mayfield details her family's experience with trying to run a business in a small town without the benefits of being a native. She also shares her loving relationship with Belle, the family's maid, and her not-so-loving relationship with her mother and older sister. As Mayfield grows up, she becomes more and more focused on leaving town when she realizes that the town's social mores don't fit well with her personal beliefs. This book is the August 2018 selection of the Willa Cather Book Club.

Mar 25, 2017

This was such an enjoyable book to read that I hated for it to end. Having grown up in the south during this time period, and with my best friend being an "undertaker's daughter", it was like reading about friends. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Aug 09, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this peep into life as a undertakers. It's a nice read, a giggle or two, and it refreshes our knowledge on how tough desegration was. Having at one time married into a southern family, I know how deep those roots go.

Cynthia_N May 11, 2015

An interesting look into this side of life. Aside from being an undertaker's daughter, Mayfield is also going to school during desegregation which makes for an engaging read.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SL

To Top