The Death of Mungo Blackwell
by Lauren H Brandenburg
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Pub Date 18 Oct 2019 | Archive Date 28 Apr 2020
Lion Hudson Ltd, Lion Fiction
WINNER OF THE ACFW AWARD 2020 FOR BEST CONTEMPORY FICTION
3rd PLACE OF ANGEL BOOK AWARD 2020 FOR CONTEMPORARY FICTON
The Blackwells are a family with an extraordinary history and astounding traditions, which include attending their own funerals before they die! Their ways are questionable and their stories about deceased relatives are as bold as their red hair, but it is their eclectic wares that keep tourists coming back to their market in the town of Coraloo.
Charlie Price, whose world has come crumbling down after a lapse in judgement leaves him unemployed, finds himself flung into the chaotic world of the Blackwells when he relocates to Coraloo with his socialite wife, Velveteen, and shy son, Gideon. Here Charlie attempts to make a living as a 'picker', reselling under-priced items he picks up at the market. Charlie soon finds this new way of life under threat and his quest for simplicity seems to be crumbling. Perhaps it's time for Charlie to have a funeral of his own?
A Note From the Publisher
Lauren Brandenburg tells a delightful tale of redemption with playful twists and turns of phrase that draw you through a story of riches-to-rags...to something more valuable than riches. This story weaves lessons of simplicity and hope through the tale of Charlie Price, the warring Blackwells and Tofts of Coraloo and their mystical market, where some trinkets carry greater value than their cost."
David Rawlings, author of The Baggage Handler and The Camera Never Lies
"Charming, eccentric, and truly heart-warming, The Death of Mungo Blackwell is a breath of fresh air. From laugh out loud hilarity to deeply authentic moments of fear and anxiety in the wake of devastating financial loss, Brandenburg weaves a lush, entertaining story. A delightful tale about family, marriage, friendship, and macarons... you can't go wrong, and I can't wait for the sequel!"
A.C. Williams, author of Finding Fireflies
"Lauren H. Brandenburg has created a classic. She's woven a story that mixes real life with mystery. Her witty unassuming demeanor and personality come to life on the pages. You instantly fall in love with the characters and her."
Gigi Butler, founder of Gigi's Cupcakes, speaker, and author of The Secret Ingredient
"They say there's nothing new under the sun - oh yes, there is! Fun, quirky, and totally original!"
Amy Willoughby-Burle, author of The Lemonade Year
"Hilarious and entertaining, a fantastic story for anyone who has had a hiccup in life."
Danny Gokey, recording artist and author of Hope in Front of Me
"Lauren's characters are relatable, lovable, and engaging, captivating the reader's interest immediately. You'll find yourself thinking about them without the book in hand, wondering what turn the story takes next!"
Nina Roesner, Executive Director of Greater Impact Ministries and author of The Respect Dare
Dedicated Midas PR campaign
Dedicated Midas PR campaign
Average rating from 19 members
Having a funeral before you die is a nice idea,and it's what drew me to this book.
But it's actually such a small part of the story.
Told in a humorous mostly way ,it's a sweet tale of family from the city in much reduced circumstances moving to the country and the eccentric family they meet there... along with that family's history.
I can see this on the screen,the market would be a superb backdrop to things.
A light, heart-warming story of a loving family facing major upheavals in their lifestyle following a significant change of circumstances. It's a light, easy read with a humorous tone.
Unfortunately I found the story slow going. The summary of the book implied there would be more to it. The characters of the Price family were difficult to engage with. Over all a pleasant book but nothing special.
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one that fell in love with the blurb. I mean, the whole funeral before dying bit intrigue me and I couldn’t wait until I dived into this read. Needless to say that was the only exciting part about this release. The story was sloooooow going and I found my found either dozing off or skimming pages to find something, anything to draw me back into the read. And what did I find? Nada. Zilch. I almost dropped this novel a number of times but was able to pull through and make it to the end. Bless me. Nevertheless this novel would be a good choice for anyone looking to read a book on a heartwarming tale about a family that struggles to cope with the whole riches to rags scenario. Too bad this just wasn’t for me.
I've started this book in expectation of a mild Halloween read. The name of the book and even the cover slightly suggest something thrilling. However, I was far from the truth. This book feels more like movies people enjoy during the Christmas holidays. A family-oriented, little bit of drama and satisfying ending.
The book tells us a story of a wealthy family, who suddenly looses almost everything. They need to come to terms with their new "simple" lifestyle, no unnecessary spending and ruin of former social status. The most drastic change is moving from a high-end apartment in the city to a small house in the village of Coraloo. Famous for its markets and quirky history, this place is a new beginning for the family of Prices who needs to adapt as much as possible. Charlie, the main character of this story, determined to take care of his family starts a risky job as an amateur antique seller.
His wife Velveteen, obsessed with her bookish hero Melba and macarons, takes the change the hardest. She feels out of place in a town of people living in camp vans and walking barefoot. However, Gideon, their only son, seems to welcome the change and finally finds some friends. The story also tells us the family history of the Blackwells, owners of the markets, who will help Prices find the best in the new situation.
"When you were a boy, did you ever imagine life would be so hard? I mean, no one ever really tells you that it's going to be this way. Responsibility was taking the trash out, and disappointment was losing the game. I kind of feel like we've been cheated."
I enjoyed the excerpts of Blackwell's family history. They were a nice way how to add more complexity to some of the slower plot points.
I had a little bit of a problem of understanding the characters, mostly Velveteen. Some times she feels like a caricature of a silly housewife and other times she surprises with a mature love and understanding. Many times I didn't agree with the characters' actions but that is only my personal point of view.
Finally, I found interesting how this book can be suitable for almost everyone, as it doesn't have any distinctive features of a particular genre. There are bits of humor, sadness, danger, bad life decisions and life in general. The story is pretty straightforward and simple but still carries an important life lesson.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available for purchase now.
Peculiar, but highly entertaining, this is one that I’d file under “cozy books”.” After an incident involving a food truck leaves Charlie Price jobless, he moves to small Coraloo with his wife and son. They find themselves thrown in the middle of a feud between two old families: the Tofts and the Blackwells.
What originally drew me to the book was the part of the description that mentions the Blackwells attending their own funerals before they die. It sounded like a fun, quirky read. However, the funeral isn’t actually the focal point, or the thing that stuck with me. This book is full of small-town eccentricities and charm to spare. It’s not a trite book, though; it found a sweet, quiet way of talking about stress, adjusting to new and scary circumstances, and “blooming where you’re planted.”
Equally funny and touching, this book managed to warm my cold little heart. I highly recommend it.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
The title and gorgeous cover art are what initially drew me in to this story. After reading the description, I was even more intrigued. The story though was different than what I was expecting. While I found parts of the story to be a bit slow going, it still was a heart-warming story of a loving, seemingly normal family that faces major lifestyle changes after their circumstances change. The Death of Mungo Blackwell is a light, easy read with a humorous tone.
Overall, I did enjoy the book even though I did find some small flaws with it. I would have loved for it to be a bit more fast paced, and for the characters to be a bit more relatable. For example, Velveteen seems a bit all over the place. At times she felt like a silly housewife and other times she was incredibly mature, loving and understanding. I know that humans are complex and characters can be just as complex, but I felt as if it wasn't as cohesive as it could have been.
One of the things I really loved about this book was that it offered something for everyone. It doesn't have the distinctive characteristics of and one given genre. The Death of Mugo Blackwell contains moments of sadness, humor, questionable life decisions, and the overall trials and tribulations that come along with having a job and family. With a story like this, it is suitable for all types of people and still delivers a message that can be absorbed by those readers regardless of who they are.
We must all fall in order to find what makes us happy.
Charlie Price is living one of his worst nightmares. After a major professional mistake, he has lost his high-paying job. His wife and son can't have the same life anymore. Now, he must find another way to make ends meet. And that's how he finds Coraloo.
Since they can't afford life at the city anymore, the Price family moves to Coraloo: a small, strange village with a street market that's known for the antiques people can find. Charlie is determined to do just that: to buy various old items and auction them online. But is that enough to sustain his family?
As his wife, Vee, struggles to come to terms with life at a strange village, and one of the main runners of the market threatens to kick him out, Charlie finds himself in a situation that just keeps getting worse and worse.
But he's not alone. The Blackwell family is (well, mostly) on his side. And, through stories, experience and gestures, the Blackwell family will help Charlie see life from another point of view. And, who knows? Maybe having a funeral he can actually attend - like the great Blackwell ancestor, Mungo - will make him see things more clearly.
The Death of Mungo Blackwell was, indeed, a peculiar book to read. An original concept, an amazing, far-from-boring plot, and some great life lessons are combined to create a beautiful story. But what stood out the most was by far the character structure: colorful characters, great dialogue, names and people that came alive while you read. The Death of Mungo Blackwell is a story for all kinds of audience: it's not a mystery, and it's not horror; it's not romance, and it's not fantasy - it's a beautifully narrated story that makes you laugh, cry, and helps you put your life into perspective.
An absolute must-read.
The Death of Mungo Blackwell is the refreshingly quirky new title from debut novelist Lauren Brandenburg. When a food-poisoning food truck incident causes banker Charlie Price to lose his job, he decides a change of both location and career is just what’s needed. But when Charlie and his wife, Velveteen, move to the tiny town of Coraloo, nothing is as they expected it to be. Plopped into the middle of a centuries old feud between the Blackwells and the Tofts, Charlie and Velveteen scramble to find their footing and carve out a life for themselves and their young son in the shadow of the mysterious Coraloo Flea Market.
Brilliantly written, Brandenburg’s fictional little world springs to life in this story of perseverance and the quest for what truly matters in life. Her characters are both imaginative and so down-to-earth real you expect to meet them on your next trip to the flea market.
With pirates, a missing treasure, and flying macarons, Mungo is unlike anything I’ve read in a very long time, and it has earned a rare spot on my must-read-it-again bookshelf. I found myself tearing up, cheering on, laughing out loud, and shaking my head at the antics of the Prices, Blackwells, and Tofts—and perhaps contemplating a Rooning or two of my own!
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
A thoroughly engaging story! I look forward to revisiting Coraloo in the next book. The wonderful front cover and the intriguing title caught my eye and the description made me want to read The Death of Mumbo Blackwell by Lauren H. Brandenburg. While the actual story differed a bit from what I had expected, I was not disappointed at all. I really enjoyed this book and found myself thinking about the story and characters when I was not reading it. They really stick in your heart and mind. I found myself wondering what I would do, think or say in particular instances. Our family has experienced setbacks but unfortunately we have not encountered a place like Coraloo or a family like the Blackwells yet on our journey. I hope we find them. This is a case of the right book at the right time.
I very highly recommend The Death of Mungo Blackwell by Lauren H. Brandenburg. She inspires me to really give my own efforts at writing a real try. Even if no one else were to read my efforts knowing I have given my stories a chance to breathe seems a worthy endeavour. Thank you Mrs. Brandenburg, seeing that a fellow homeschooling mom not only found the time and belief in herself to follow her dreams but also shared her efforts and struggles with others is inspiring. The fact that she created a world, and did so without resorting to the ugliness (curse words and adult situations of an intimate and private nature) so many seem to think necessary in order to "make it" as an author proves not only how unnecessary those very things are but also proves how talented she is. It is refreshing to see an author write a real story, one that doesn't have to rely on gimmicks, one that has something to say, something to share.
This is a series I will gladly follow, one I can picture myself rereading, one in which I anticipate and impatiently await each next installment. I don't know if it is in the works but if the opportunity ever arises, Coraloo and all its wonderfulness would make a wonderful series, I hope it becomes one providing the right people are involved; it would break my heart if people who did not understand this story and it's lessons were involved.
I will be most certainly be telling all the readers I know to be on the lookout for this book, especially as I think it has something for everyone and I suspect that with each reading something new, personal and timely will reveal itself to the reader.
Unique and unconventional, The Death of Mungo Blackwell has its moments of fantasy (pirate kinds, pygmies, and a curse are all parts of the Blackwell history that reads like a tall tale). Yet Lauren H. Brandenburg also examines two areas of life that everyone can relate to on one level or another: failure and change.
When Charlie Price loses his VP job, his family moves from the city to the town of Coraloo in search of a simpler life. But change is rarely easy and failure casts a longer shadow than we sometimes realize. With the help of unexpected friends, Charlie, Velveteen, and Gideon learn that life isn’t about the chase (the next deal, keeping up with up with the Joneses, a better career, or something else). It’s about finding happiness and contentment in the stage of life you are in.
Memorable characters, moments of hilarity, and a message that encourages readers to embrace the good in life every day, Brandenburg has given readers a delightful gift in this story.
I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
A light, heart-warming story of a loving family facing major upheavals in their lifestyle following a significant change of circumstances. It's a light, easy read, enjoyed curling up on the sofa reding this, have already recommended to a few friends.
Though the blurb mainly mentions Charlie Price, the book is really his wife, Velveteen's, story. When Charlie loses his high-powered, highly-paid job, the Price family must face living frugally and downsizing. This is hardest for Velveteen, a rather annoying privileged snob who comes across as somewhat ditsy and shallow. When the family move to Coraloo, where there is a flea market that Charlie now picks and flips bargains from to make a living, Velveteen must learn how to make friends instead of acquaintances that have to be impressed. The Blackwell family, who run the flea market, are mostly friendly and take Velveteen on, showing her a different way of life.
The story is somewhat repetitive - we told things more than once unnecessarily. The explanation of 'The Rooning' is first told briefly but with sufficient detail that we don't really need the fuller version that comes later. Similarly, the children's acting out of Mumford's wedding etc doesn't need to be gone into twice. It's all a bit longwinded with unnecessary retellings and incidents that don't move the story forward. Also, I found Velveteen's refusal to tell her husband her important news just irritating.
There are various typos, wrong words used and a general mishmash of styles going on - but that's something for the proofreader/publisher to sort out.
I found the whole Mungo Blackwell 'history' rather odd. The Blackwell family keep saying it's true but as it involves king pirates, knights of old, maharajas and pygmies - all in the middle to later half of the 19th century - it comes across as fantasy and I'm afraid I don't see the point of it.
The first half is readable and reasonably engaging but it simply doesn't fulfil its promise. I'm afraid I lost the will to read it fully at around 60-70% of the way through and started skimming and skipping. I picked it up because I liked the title and the cover - both of which lead one to expect an entirely different book. If someone ever writes THAT book, I'd be happy to read it.
Mango Blackwell be dead. Who did it!m? Was it you? Do we find out who? I guess you’ll just have to read this riveting tale because reviews are useles and nobody reads them!!
Thanks to the publishers for sharing this one. I actually thought I'd already sent feedback for it but it's still in my list, so here goes. It's a quirky, lighthearted novel and I enjoyed it. My full review appears on Weekend Notes.
I discovered this book after connecting with the author Lauren H. Brandenburg. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley. This book was interesting and unlike many of the books I have been reading. It mixed the innocence of childhood magic with the complete corruption of failure as an adult. The story line follows Charlie Price, a recently fired NY Executive, and his family through their downsizing and ultimate self-reflection on what is important.
While I enjoyed the story, I really loved the moments where we meet Mungo Blackwell, the founder of the Coraloo Market where Charlie and his family begin again. It was entertaining and exaggerated, as all family stories seem to be the farther away from the event we become. I had wanted to see a bit more of Charlie's wife, Velveteen's transformation. I was more intrigued by her storyline than by Charlie's. I understand the reasoning behind the lack of view for Velveteen, because Charlie is consumed with the burden of financial responsibility. A burden that many adults can relate to, which makes it easy to empathize with Charlie and his family as we get to the middle portion of the novel.
I have to say, I kind of hated Velveteen for 60% of the novel, until we start to see some transformative moments begin to take place—but I think that is a notable author moment that Lauren should be proud of. We are meant to be emotionally engaged with the characters, regardless of emotion, and Lauren executed that responsibility perfectly.
As a final note, the ending I felt was at first too drawn out, but then too rushed once another event peaked. It felt a bit too easy of an ending to me. The novel was wonderfully real, raw, and dramatic—to end the way it did felt less authentic than the rest of the novel. I recommend this book for readers who enjoy a cozy, quick read that deal with life's monetary struggles of those who have and become have nots.
An interesting read though a bit confusing ,in a good way, at times, the characters were very interesting Worth a read
This was a unique and interesting read! I really enjoyed the plot and its characters! It held my interest through the entire book!
A quirky book featuring the Price family's interactions with the anything but regular Blackwell family following their relocation to Coraloo.
Who would expect baking macarons, home hair-dying and a total shift to a 'quieter, simpler life' to be so entertaining? Factor in the Blackwell family tradition of having a funeral before someone dies and you can see why this book keeps you engaged.
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