The Undertakers’ Mother is a biographical novel about two people who were raised on opposite sides of the world and who were married because one of them was in great need. It is a story of love, loss and loyalty and a tribute to the indomitable spirit and endurance of people of their time in history.
Newly married Thomas and Maria Tobin arrive in Marvellous Melbourne from Ireland in 1889. They settle in South Melbourne among many of their own countrymen and faith and start a family. With the onset of Depression in the early 1890s and the discovery of gold in Western Australia, Thomas uproots his family and heads to the goldfields, but ultimately settles in Fremantle.
Melbourne born Alice O’Dowd is growing up in the love and security of her Irish-born parents and siblings when Thomas’s wife dies in childbirth. Alice’s life changes dramatically and unexpectedly when, in answer to Thomas’s request for her ‘hand’, Alice’s parents send her to Fremantle to marry him.
Their story is told lovingly by their granddaughter Denise Tobin Shine who has skilfully blended fictional characters, with the facts based on their lives. Finally, in their old age, Thomas and Alice are able take great pride in the success of the family business – Tobin Brothers Funerals – founded by four of their sons in 1934.