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The Thoughts & Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals Paperback – 21 Jun 2012


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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: 13.2 x 2.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 242,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Gently glorious. (Kate Long)

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

'Wilfred's sentimental education is wrought so delightfully and affectionately.' (Sunday Times)

a delightful story of great charm, very quirky and original. (Jacqueline Wilson)

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? (Fay Weldon)

A skillfully drawn comedy of manners (The New Yorker)

Take on its own humble terms - an old-fashioned story exploring first love, loyalty and loss - this diverting novel is pure pleasure (The New York Times Sunday Book Review)

Jones expertly conjures the speech patterns, mores and physical details of a bygone world in this remarkable debut. (SF Gate)

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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Raven TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
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 By Jo D'Arcy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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 By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
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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