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The Thoughts & Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals [Paperback]

Wendy Jones
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

21 Jun 2012
Everyone has to make decisions about love. Wilfred Price, overcome with emotion on a sunny spring day, proposes to a girl he barely knows at a picnic. The girl, Grace, joyfully accepts and rushes to tell her family of Wilfred's intentions. But by this time Wilfred has realised his mistake. He does not love Grace. On the verge of extricating himself, Wilfred's situation suddenly becomes more serious when Grace's father steps in. Up until this point in his life, Wilfred's existence has been blissfully simple, and the young undertaker seems unable to stop the swirling mess that now surrounds him. To add to Wilfred's emotional turmoil, he thinks he may just have met the perfect girl for him. As Wilfred struggles in an increasingly tangled web of expectation and duty, love and lies, Grace reveals a long-held secret that changes everything . . . Wendy Jones's charming first novel is a moving depiction of love and secrecy, set against the rural backdrop of a 1920s Welsh village, and beautifully told.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Corsair (21 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780335814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780335810
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Wilfred s sentimental education is wrought so delightfully and affectionately --Sunday Times

Light, compassionate drama about a small, very tightly bound, ancient corner of the world. --The Guardian

Gently glorious.--Kate Long

I love this novel. Who would have thought so quiet, calm and delicate a novel could keep you completely absorbed from first page to last? Reading this I missed my station.--Fay Weldon

Using lean prose full of subtle humour and irony, Wendy Jones creates a world which feels at once distant and familiar to the modern reader.--Panos Karnezis

This is a spryly told tale whose heart is an ample match for its more knowing qualities.--Daily Mail

This is a delightful debut, whose droll exterior masks something wiser and sadder: the importance of truth, parental favouritism and lives ruined or redeemed by a single event.--Scotsman

A novel of serious moral and existential emphasis.--Times Literary Supplement

This is an exceptional debut from a highly talented writer; with such an enchanting novel Wendy Jones is a name to watch.--Newbooks magazine

This charming tale - with a dark secret at its heart - will take you back in time.--Star Magazine

Sensitively written, Wendy Jones debut is set in the 1920s, and captures the judgmental claustrophobia of a society obsessed with respectability.--We Love This Book

The characters in Wilfred s life are very realistically drawn, especially his father, and we ve probably all met people like the members of the Mothers Union Thursday Club. Wendy Jones s story may not be new, but it is engagingly told and thoroughly enjoyable.--Scotsman

Set in the 20's Welsh valleys this is a delightful read, as quirky as its title.--Choice magazine

I had to start reading the book as soon as it arrived and could barely put it down as I did. This, Wendy Jones first novel, is a great read and one I d definitely recommend. I only wish I could read more about the young Wilfred Price!--Notes of Life

A charming and beautifully told debut

This is a writer new to publishing fiction, writing about a young man and his tangled web and doing it exceedingly well. I loved it, book groups worldwide will love it, and chances are you will too. There, I've committed

There's a delicacy about the book that suits its themes of reticence and what is hidden and unspoken, and there's a lightness to the telling, as unforced as its period setting, so all told, a lovely debut from Wendy

Wendy Jones has written a surprisingly restrained and moving book. There are secrets which aren't pretty, there are shocks without sensationalism. This is a novel about duty, love, loss and responsibility and it deserves a very wide audience ... Wilfred is just about perfect.

Book Description

A charming and moving depiction of love and secrecy, set against the rural backdrop of a 1920s Welsh village.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals 1 Jan 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel is set in Narbeth, a small town in South Wales, during 1924. Wilfred Price, the "Purveyor of Superior Funerals" lives with his father, a grave digger, in the place where he has grown up and hopes to make his business a success and become a citizen of some status and standing. When we meet Wilfred, he is having a picnic in the garen with Grace Reece, the daughter of Dr Reece. Overcome with the emotions of the sunny afternoon, and Grace's new yellow dress, he proposes. This is something which, on reflection, he is horrified by. Finally, he tells her that the engagement is off and gets on with his life. Getting on with his life involves the beautiful Flora, whose fiance died in the Great War, and whose father he is to bury. However, situations change suddenly and Wilfred finds himself forced into a situation he is not ready to accept.

There are few novels which you cannot put down, but this is one of them. Wilfred is a lovely character, full of charm and intelligence. I adored his sweet father and you have sympathy for both Grace and Flora as the novel unfolds. The characters are wonderfully written, the book itself flawless. Although Wilfred is an undertaker, there is much humour in this book, particularly in the sayings from Mr Ogmore Auden, who trained Wilfred and whose pronouncements litter the book. These range from, "refrain from dwelling on thoughts of a lewd nature while in the presence of the deceased. Especially when using a sharp tool..." and "as long as you're reading, you're learning," which leads Wilfred to buy a dictionary to improve his vocabulary. I have a feeling we will all be hearing a lot more from this author, judging by a debut which is so masterfully written, offering a thought provoking and intelligent read with humour, pathos and incredible charm.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare find... 23 Jan 2012
Don't be misled by the charming cover because you will find a much darker tale at the heart of this seemingly unassuming book set in rural Wales in the 1920`s. Our hero Wilfred finds himself embroiled in a complicated love triangle (despite the advice of his funereal mentor Mr Auden forbidding `fancy business with the ladies') with a quite shocking secret at its heart that hits you square on and makes you reassess the predicament that he and Grace (his intended) find themselves in, further complicated by Wilfred's illicit love for the emotionally battered Flora. Alongside this, the relationship between Wilfred and his `Da' is beautifully drawn adding a sense of stability to Wilfred's complicated life and the writing throughout regarding human relationships seems so understated but leads the reader along effortlessly. The story is punctuated by moments of mordant wit (mainly in the good advice dispensed by the aforementioned Mr Auden) and then by turn injections of extreme pathos which really makes you care about the characters and ponder on their fate after the last page is turned. An accomplished debut that I can wholeheartedly recommend for those who like books that make you think...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is love dead or alive? 20 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the midst of life there is death. In Wilfred Price's life there only seems to be death and he is struggling with the personal quest to find a life to be alive in. He knows amongst all the death he encounters we are all alive.

When an invitation to a picnic with Grace, a girl in a yellow dress, on a sunny day prompts a rather rash and impulsive question by Wilfred, all of a sudden he finds that he is alive. However, he soon begins to regret his rash question and has to find the courage to tell Grace the truth.

Grace is keeping secrets of her own and little does Wilfred know that actually his impulsive question has led him to solve a problem for Grace but incur the wrath of Grace's father. Putting in jeopardy his own position within the local community. Gossip would be able to ruin his growing business of Funeral Director and he strives to be the best, as the title of the novel suggests. Ever present in his thoughts are the teachings of his master and Wilfred uses these to keep himself in check throughout the book.

And so this rather slow and thoughtful story meanders on as Grace and Wilfred exist together but so far apart. Wilfred seeks solace in his work and with conversations with his father, realises that you cannot live a whole life of unhappiness. Wilfred discovers the confidence he needs through the love of someone else, but he must remain true, and he is utterly confused as to the right thing to do and the right way to go about it. Dealing with death seems easier.

Grace has to deal with her family, her father the local doctor and her mother are rather pious and despite the happy outcome they desire, they seem to be grieving the loss a daughter her being ever present whilst rejoicing in their son, who has gone off to fight in the Army.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Already optioned for a miniseries by the producers of Downton Abbey, this novel has everything that will make this projected series a huge, popular success – a young, ingratiating main character who bumbles along as he tries to sort out his life; a woman to whom he becomes inadvertently engaged and who turns out to be a character worthy of great empathy; another woman who has still not recovered from her loss during World War I; and a Welsh setting in 1924 in Narberth, a small, rural town in Pembrokeshire in which everyone knows everyone else’s business. World War I is over, and the many young men from Narberth who were killed in the war have left behind broken hearts, ruined lives, and devastated families. Young men like Wilfred Price, who have not served in battle, have escaped many of the emotional horrors of the war, insulated from this reality because their professions have been considered essential to their community.

Wilfred, age twenty-seven, is a conscientious funeral director who also makes the caskets and does all the work involved in a funeral and burial, and he is anxious to expand his business, perhaps by selling wallpaper in a front room of his establishment. Wilfred is not looking for love when he sees Grace Reece, the daughter of the local physician, at an afternoon picnic, but he is suddenly mesmerized by her dress. For Wilfred, “it was not only how she got into the dress…He wondered, too, how Grace got out of it.” Overcome with his fantasies, Wilfred hears himself asking her to marry him, a dramatic development which he recognizes instantly as a mistake, even as Grace is saying, “I would be delighted.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book.
Set in a Narbeth, a small village in Wales this is the story of Wilfred Price, a local undertaker who on the spur of the moment proposes to Grace while at a picnic. Read more
Published 3 days ago by F Keegan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
For folk of a certain age, it is nostalgic, humour0us and refreshing.
Published 1 month ago by MONKSDYKE
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm
Interesting start, and great descriptions of wales, and i cam hear the welsh lilt coming through the language. Read more
Published 2 months ago by honey
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle delightful tale
Wilfred is an undertaker in a small Welsh town in the twenties. He, almost accidentally, proposes marriage to a girl he does not love. Read more
Published 3 months ago by V. A. Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
It was an immense pleasure to enter the world that Wendy Jones evoked in this book. The thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price takes place in a small town in west Wales and Jones... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Keir Alexander
4.0 out of 5 stars Choices and decisions...
Life is a series of choices and decisions. Some of them are made by us and others are made for us. But no matter how they're made and by whom, our lives are the sum of those... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jill Meyer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thoughts & Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior...
I found the story of Wilfred and his Da' really touching, while on the surface this is a gentle novel set in perhaps simpler times, running beneath are the painfully sad and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by corinna spencer
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and charming
I really enjoyed this book which I read with my rather large book group. A few of the more busier ladies gave up on it and didn't really seem to understand the gentle humour. Read more
Published 5 months ago by T. E. H
5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun
This book makes an excellent read. The plot is not complex but has an interesting twist to it. I live in Pembrokeshire, near Narberth and enjoyed reading about the area.
Published 7 months ago by Mrs Anne Thomas-Ferrand
1.0 out of 5 stars DREAM WORLD
It is based on a premise that a man would totally sacrifice himself for a woman he doesnt love while he's madly in love with another woman. Read more
Published 8 months ago by bettyparry
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