Listening Still by Anne Griffin

Listening Still is the story of a woman who can speak to the dead. Jeanie Masterson is an undertaker in a small Irish town. Her family has owned a funeral home going back to her father’s father. She and her father have a gift. They are able to hear the last requests or words of those customers who choose to speak. Some of the dead just want their family members to know they loved them, while others need to relay information or secrets they have kept hidden for years. Others just ask for forgiveness.

Although Jeanie wanted to go to college in London and explore different career options, she always knew there was a family obligation for her to stay in their small town and keep the family business going. It was important to her that the gift she was given was used the way it had been intended. She owed that to the people who needed to speak through her.

She even married her childhood friend, Niall who became an embalmer and had loved her since they were very young. He was not the love of her life though. He moved to London for college and even though he begged her to join him, the obligation to her family was too overwhelming. Just another regret.

But Jeanie is now at a crossroads in her life. Her parents have just informed her that they are retiring and moving away leaving the business to her and her husband and her aunt. It is just expected Jeanie will take over. But Jeanie feels the itch of trying something different. Niall has begun to pressure Jeanie to have children, something she was never too keen on for fear she would pass her gift along and have the cycle of feeling trapped continue.

Intertwined through the story are some of the problems of the dead which Jeanie has helped resolve through the years, some good, some shocking and some which helped the living to move on.

But suddenly she begins to see that while everyone else seems to be putting their needs first, she on the other hand has never done that for herself. All through her life she has always done what was expected of her, not what she has really wanted to do. But what is it that she really wants? How on earth could she tell all the people in her life that she wants something more? Something which may not include some of them?

Jeanie needs to not only speak for the dead, but she needs to have the courage to finally speak up for herself in this incredibly unique heartfelt story about love and loss.

Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #ListeningStill #AnneGriffin for the advanced copy.

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