I recently had an author reach out to me, asking if I would be interested in reviewing her book Cemetery Reflections and if it would be a good fit. She described her book as a pairing of photographs with epitaphs, poetry, and prose; giving a slightly different slant to a typical walk through a cemetery. I thought it would be a perfect fit! So for this month’s cemetery book review, I wanted to share my thoughts about Cemetery Reflections by Jane Hopkins.
Cemetery Reflections looks at the beauty and emotion that accompanies cemetery visits and is meant to be read in bits and pieces, as a cemetery walk would be. This new book was published in the fall of 2022, by Headstone Press. This is Jane’s first cemetery photography book, but she is no stranger to photography. Her fine art photography has been exhibited and sold since 2002, at many venues including the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York, and the Dyer Arts Center at the Rochester Institute of Technology.1
I was already familiar with Jane’s work, having seen her beautiful photographs on various cemetery social media accounts that I follow. I was very excited when she reached out and asked me to review her book. She was also very gracious and provided me with a beautiful paperback copy to read.
Here is the book synopsis from Goodreads: “Stroll through three centuries of American cemeteries through photographic images, historic poetry, and memorable prose. The reader will find stunning photos in both black-and-white and color. Paired with the images are poignant passages drawn from timeless literature and sensitive recollections of family losses. The cemetery emerges as a place of solace, where final and loving farewells may rest safely among the tombstones.
This book offers a compassionate context that deepens awareness of the experience of death. Devotees of art, history, poetry, and philosophy will find Cemetery Reflections a mesmerizing journey. Grief is intense and lonely, dying can be frightening and sometimes painful beyond expectation, and the “great beyond” remains a mystery. The pandemic and recent violence in the US have brought issues of death to the forefront. People are searching for ways to better understand and cope with challenges that once seemed far distant. Cemetery Reflections can provide a valuable assist in this process.”2
This is a beautiful, high-quality softcover photography book. It’s filled with full-color and black-and-white photographs alongside beautiful poetry, epitaphs, and musings. It is very different than the books I have been reading lately. I loved that it showcases American cemeteries alongside Canadian ones. I also love the variety of the photography, from detailed shots of grave goods to lovely cemetery landscapes, and everything in between.
Cemetery Reflections feels like a contemplative walk through a cemetery. I found each epitaph, poem, and beautiful photograph encouraged self-reflection and exploration of my own understanding of grief and remembrance. At times it is a very emotional read.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fine art photography, poetry, and cemetery walks. Because of the self-reflective nature of this book, I would also recommend it to those who may be grieving a loss, as well as those who might find cemeteries and death uncomfortable. They might find its heartfelt and thoughtful messages to be healing.
Have you read Cemetery Reflections? Do you agree with my review? Or will you be adding it to your reading list? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
I am always on the hunt for cemetery-related book recommendations. Please feel free to share yours in the comments. If you are an author and have a cemetery-related book you would like me to review, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
- Author Bio | Cemetery Reflections
- Cemetery Reflections | Goodreads.com