Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones


The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals
by Wendy Jones
Europa, 2014
(originally published in 2012)
273 pages
source: ebook from library

Summary (from goodreads):
Under the heady influence of a springtime picnic and vague notions of obligation, young undertaker Wilfred Price blurts out a marriage proposal to a woman he barely knows. Much to his consternation, she says yes. As Wilfred attempts to extricate himself from the situation, his betrothed’s overbearing father presents further complications. And when Wilfred meets another woman he does wish to marry, a comedy of manners ensues. Set in rural Wales during the 1920s, Wendy Jones’s charming first novel is a deceptive, subtly humorous entrance to the mores and social conventions of a world gone by.

My thoughts:
Spring, 1924 
“It was because of a yellow dress. She was wearing a yellow dress and her arms were bare. It was slightly tart, the colour of lemon curd. He couldn’t remember seeing a dress in that shade before. It was pleated silk and sleeveless, with a low waistband and a square neck that was slightly too low, perhaps only by half an inch.  Wilfred wondered how she got the dress on. Maybe there were hooks and eyes hidden on the side, under her arm. Ladies dresses sometimes had those. Women hooked and encased themselves in their dresses but there was always a way out."  
My blogging friends deserve total credit for leading me to this book. I caught my first glimpse of the gorgeous cover on Audrey's blog, and added it to my wish list after reading her review. Just days later, Diane seconded her high opinion. Being a Europa edition only added to its appeal.

Set in Wales, the novel offers a look at customs and societal norms surrounding courtship and marriage in the 1920's. I was expecting nothing but sweetness (judging from the cover and description), but a surprisingly dark twist added both depth and interest to the novel.

As for Wilfred himself, he seemed hapless, spinelessness, and at times, drove me crazy. There were moments when I wanted to shake him. However, his character does seem to grow and, as the novel progresses, there are signs of an emerging backbone.

Overall, this book was a very pleasant surprise for me. My mother read it, too, but she was put off by the somewhat open ending (she likes her novels a little more neatly packaged, I think). Further investigation turned up a sequel, The World is a Wedding. It does not appear to be readily available in the US, but I'd sure like to find a copy.

According to the Europa website, The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals has been optioned for a mini-series by the company that produces Downton Abbey for the BBC and PBS. I can't wait.

My rating:

21 comments:

  1. After all, it's only fair that we should return the favor, book recommendation-wise. :) I'm so glad you enjoyed this. I'm not sure which is more exciting (or more elusive) - the sequel or the miniseries!

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    1. Audrey - Wendy Jones tweeted at me this morning... the sequel will be published in the US by Europa this spring! Not sure if there is a date for the miniseries.

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  2. I have yet to read a Europa book. This sounds so good even with the odd title.

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    1. Kathy - I've enjoyed quite a few Europa editions. Besides being great reads, the quality of the cover and pages is excellent.

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this JoAnn. What a title! This sounds really interesting. Thanks for your wonderful review.

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    1. Pat - That title certainly is a mouthful, lol!

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  4. This sounds like a lot of fun - I really like the premise.

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    1. Sam - It was such a pleasant surprise for me. I'm looking forward to the sequel!

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  5. I've been curious about this one since you first mentioned it so I'm glad to see the review! I'll definitely be adding this to my wishlist. I like the premise a lot!

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    1. Katherine - I love the premise, too, but got so frustrated with Wilfred as he just let things happen without standing up for himself. I hope you get a chance to read this one!

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  6. This is a new to me book and author. It sounds terrific. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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    1. Holly - You're welcome. This seems to be one of those books that I've only seen on book blogs!

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  7. Sounds wonderful and my library actually has it!

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    1. Anbolyn - That's great! I have a feeling you'll like this one.

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  8. Sounds fun, but I'm probably more like your mother so I wouldn't want to read it without sequel in hand!

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    1. Stacy - The author mentioned on twitter that the sequel will be published by Europa for US release in the spring.

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  9. Oh this sounds like my kind of book! Must track it down. And PBS option? Yay!

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    1. I'm now on the hold list for this from my library!

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    2. BethF - Will look forward to your thoughts! Europa is publishing the sequel this spring.

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  10. How did I miss this one on Diane's blog? Going to have to keep my eye out for it.

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    1. Lisa - It's definitely worth reading. Can't wait for the sequel!

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