Last year I read She Always Wore Red (The Fairlawn Series #2) and as my review indicates, really enjoyed it. Now that it is summer, I'm taking my youngest to the library for Family Night and have about enough time during the story to go and get a book I know I want--as opposed to browsing to find one I'd like to try. Since I liked She Always Wore Red (The Fairlawn Series #2), as well as The Note by the same author, Angela Hunt, I grabbed these books.
The Fairlawn trilogy begins with Doesn't She Look Natural (The Fairlawn Series #1). In it Jennifer Graham, whose husband recently divorced her in favor of the young nanny, inherits a funeral home. She plans to sell it, but while visiting it, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is Gerald, her uncle's assistant, she decides to keep it and to study to become a mortician. While this book set the scene for the other two, I found it the weakest of the three, and had it been the first one I read, I'm not sure I would have continued with the series. By the time She Always Wore Red (The Fairlawn Series #2) comes, Jennifer is in school and working with Gerald. Then a half-sister she didn't know existed shows up on her doorstep. She's in a Better Place (The Fairlawn Series #3) is about Gerald's terminal illness and death. It is also about Jennifer's desire for stability in life, and a realization that change can bring us to a better place.
These book manage to deal with serious themes without being overly heavy. The descriptions of work in the morgue are fascinating and the whole trilogy reminds us that death is truly a part of life. One thing I loved in the first book was when Jennifer described her encounter with the funeral director for her father's funeral as something that left her feeling taken advantage of--I don't have the book anymore and can't give you a direct quote--but I know that's exactly how my husband I and felt after my father-in-law's funeral.
Doesn't She Look Natural (The Fairlawn Series #1) is the weak link but I recommend reading as background to the other two books, which rate A's in my book.