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Remembrance Man by Nicholas Kinsey

Remembrance Man

by Nicholas Kinsey

380 pages
Paolo works as a gravedigger and 'remembrance man' in a cemetery during the 1832 cholera epidemic. At night he watches for signs of the undead and discovers a woman buried alive. He is drawn into a terrifying story of revenge and insanity.

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Category: Fiction:Historical
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About the Book
During the 1832 cholera epidemic, Paolo works for his uncle as a gravedigger in Western Ontario. At night he earns a bonus from wealthy clients as a ‘remembrance man’ whose job is to watch over selected graves for signs of the undead. He discovers a young woman who has been buried alive and is drawn into a terrifying story of revenge and insanity.

This is a tale of murder, greed and deceit, and the breakdown of society. Family members turn against family members, friends against friends, and soon everyone is out for themselves. Cholera victims are simply abandoned on the roads, and wagons are sent around to collect the bodies and bury them in cholera pits. During these dark days, stories spread about reopening coffins in which the dead had apparently revived after burial, only to die in a futile attempt to escape. No one wanted to bury a loved one who might still be alive, which led to the habit of keeping corpses around so that the families could be sure the person had really died.

Cholera had many nicknames, ‘King Cholera’ and ‘the Blue Death’, due to the bluish pallor of its victims. It caused more deaths than any other disease in the 19th century. It swept through the cities of Europe claiming the lives of 6,500 people in London and 13,000 in Paris. In Montreal and Quebec City, there were 150 deaths and 100 deaths respectively per day in June 1832. People were deathly afraid of cholera as it made its way west up the St. Lawrence River and fear spread faster than the disease itself.


The novel is a fast paced story. Although I had an inkling that Emily and Paolo would survive and emerge as lovers, their path toward a 'happy ending' is not an easy one. The inclusion of a pair of beautiful twins, one good and one evil, adds another twist of irony, as does the fact that Paolo is accused of being a murderer and has to flee for his life in order to avoid being executed. Another item which I found interesting was the 'camp meeting' of troubled women who find relief through religion under the influence of a fraudulent and predatory preacher. Poetic justice is served when the women conspire to poison the corrupt preacher. The contrast between the despicable behaviour of the preacher and the noble nature of our hero Paolo shows that human nature, both good and evil, does not change. The honesty and courage of the serving girl Gerty stands out in contrast to the vile behaviour of the evil-doers. All in all, I enjoyed reading the book. It was seven or eight hours well spent.
- James Hamilton, Sainte-Anne-du-bout-de-l'île Historical Society


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About the Author
Nicholas Kinsey Nicholas Kinsey is a Canadian / British writer and director of feature films and television drama. He has been a successful director, scriptwriter, director of photography, a film editor, and a producer over a long career. Kinsey has written four historical novels and twenty feature and television drama screenplays.



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