‘The Book Keepers’ Shows a Husband’s Journey to Promote His Late Wife’s Memoirs

Ulises Duenas


Everyone processes grief differently and in many people’s opinion, there’s no stronger grief than losing a spouse. When Dick Wall lost his wife to breast cancer, he reluctantly took on the responsibility of promoting her memoir, which she finished during the last months of her life.


The Book Keepers is a documentary that shows his cross-country journey of promoting the book, while also giving the viewer insight into how Dick is navigating his grief.


This film is shot and directed by Dick Wall’s son, Phil, who is with his dad throughout the promotional tours. Early on, Dick is talking to Phil candidly about how he felt shortly after Carol’s death. He says that when he lost his dad, he felt more worried about his mom than he did for himself and after his wife died, he selfishly felt more concerned about where his life was headed than he was about his children’s grief. It’s an honest moment that tells you a lot about his mindset and it makes him instantly relatable. 



When the documentary starts to delve into Carol Wall’s life and career, you slowly realize how heartbreaking her death must have been. She began writing in her early adulthood as a hobby and slowly found more and more success to the point where she had novels published. Later in life, she met a man named Giles Owita who was an immigrant from Kenya and had come to America to study horticulture.


Wall and Giles became friends and through gardening, he taught her how to remain optimistic and appreciative of life even when she knew she didn’t have much time left. That became the foundation for Wall memoir Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening. One drawback of the documentary is that it feels like it glosses over Owita’s involvement in all this, and while it does provide background on him, I would have liked to learn more about the man that inspired Carol Wall so deeply. 



In the last third of the film, you see Dick become more enthusiastic about the book’s sales. As his promotion tour goes on, he sells more and more copies and becomes almost obsessed with selling more and reaching the 1 million mark. You see signs that he’s started to move on and that he seems happier than he did at the onset.


The Book Keepers is edited well and is a bit slow at times, yet at its core an interesting story about overcoming grief.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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All images courtesy of First Run Features
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