Book review: Saving Graces

Image description: the black and white book cover features a nude female figure carved in stone laying in a position with her back arched. The book is held up in front of a gold curtain with light filtering in.

In my mission of Romancing Repose, I stumbled upon this little gem of a book. Saving Graces by David Robinson is a photography book about erotic statues of women in cemeteries. Some might find that sleazy or off-putting, but I find them quite poetic and inspiring.

This book is older, with a publication of 1995. It has a small trim size, unlike most coffee-table sized photography books. But that does make it affordable and accessible. I bought my copy used for under ten dollars.

All the photos are black and white. Aside from the philosophical introduction from Joyce Carol Oates (of which I found myself agreeing with a bit and disagreeing with quite a lot) there is no text or information about the cemeteries or monuments. Thus this is not an informative book, and taphophiles who are interested in history, the monuments, the people/families, or the cemeteries will be disappointed.

The book is still worth a spot on your shelf if you’re particularly interested in the intersection of eroticism and death/mourning. (We are few, but mighty.)

Now, now, before you get too bothered, the image on the cover is the most risqué of the entire collection. There are a few examples within the pages that on par with the cover. But most of the ladies featured in the book have clothes carved on. And plenty of strategically placed wreaths over sensitive places.

If you’re interested you can find it on Amazon here.

And, I wrote a poem on the theme of this book. Here is Femme Fatale from my book Romancing the Gatekeeper:

Not all graveyard angels have wings

Some have bared breasts and loose locks of hair carved in stone

Their cheeks, lips, and curves astonishingly smooth

but their hands

are a surprise

One finger bent just so gripping the stem of a flower


Grief makes us disheveled and reveals the most tender places

where the judgements of polite society cannot reach us

Only the matters of Heaven touch us in the graveyard

Here we can live with

the thought that perhaps our bodies are not a sin

Perhaps that which we

caress and crave and finally lay to rest really does deserve

to look up into a gaze as beautiful as this


‘Til next time. &/ -AV


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