The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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April 20, 2014

The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals

This doesn't usually happen, and now that it has I wouldn't recommend it {at least not for myself}, but last week I realized that I was in the middle of four books {six if you count the two audiobooks} and there was a looming due date for  this one. That makes seven, if we're counting...

The T. and H. is set in 1924, in a small town in Wales. Wilfred Price is a serious, dependable, well-mannered, thoughtful young man, living with his widowed father and building a business as an undertaker. He is the kind of person who decides to read the dictionary, in hopes that having a bigger vocabulary will make it easier to find words for the things he wants to say, but he is also the kind of young man who has 1924-ishly lustful thoughts about the young women he meets, even when they are in mourning. He often reminds himself of what the wonderfully-named Mr. Ogmore Auden, his apprentice-master, would say in any given situation, from advice on how to talk to the bereaved to the counsel that once he is set up in business Wilfred should find a wife.

The first thing that happens, then, is that Wilfred goes on a picnic with Grace, who wears a new yellow dress and serves trifle in china bowls, and impulsively asks her to marry him. He immediately regrets his offer, but when he goes to her house to tell her that he has made a mistake, she has already told her shrill, critical mother, and her overbearing father. Wilfred wavers between ignoring Grace completely and telling her bluntly that he will not marry her. Then, he is called to purvey his superior services for a man who has died suddenly, and meets his beautiful, fragile daughter, Flora, who is also still grieving for the fiancé she lost in the Great War.

There are thoughts and happenings that are sweet and funny, and others that are serious, and others that start in one mood and quickly turn to another, the way life does, and that's what gave this book its real charm. I loved it!


Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

Never heard of this one before but now I am determined to read it!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to rush downstairs now, to pluck my copy from the shelf and then run back upstairs to add it to the 'must read now' pile on my bedside table. This is a book I liked the look of but never quite got to, so than you for such a lovely reminder.

JoAnn said...

I hate when that happens. Five may be me most I've found myself juggling... can't even imagine 7!

The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals sounds wonderful and has been added to my wish list. Love those Europa editions.

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