Book Review – Past Mortems by Carla Valentine.

This book jumped out at me while I was committing the dangerous act of browsing Amazon for new books. I have had a fascination with pathology and it’s associated professions for a long time. Possibly well founded by my 15 years as a nurse.
So I took the leap and purchased this book and boy am I glad that I did!
A day in the life of Carla Valentine – curator, pathology technician and ‘death professional’ – is not your average day. She spent ten years training and working as an Anatomical Pathology Technologist : where the mortuary slab was her desk,and that day’s corpses her task list.
Past Mortems tells Carla’s story of those years, as well as investigating the body alongside our attitudes towards death – shedding light on what the living can learn from the dead and the toll the work can take on the living souls who carry it out. Fascinating and insightful, Past Mortems reveals the truth about what happens when the mortuary doors swing shut or the lid of the coffin closes.
It is really rather easy for me to review this book. I love, love, loved it!!! It was incredibly well written by a very well practised and highly intelligent woman. She reveals to us through her gift for writing as well as working with the dead, all the facts about having to work in the death industry. As an outsider, we do not see the intense pressure that these people have to work under. This book peels back layers, much like an APT gently moving the skin of the face and working to enter the skull to reveal the brain. By gradually doing this, Carla shows all of the facts behind the mystery surrounding the work that is done in mortuaries.
We learn from her, many of the fascinating aspects of her profession, from where she started out to where she is now. However, this book also shows just how brave Carla is as she shares with us some of the most painful moments of her life, revealing both her vulnerability and her strength.
I can’t praise this book enough, I really can’t. If you have even a passing interest in the death industry in any of its forms, I urge you to read this book!
A five out of five star read. Thank you Carla!

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