Wilfred Price is still the purveyor of superior funerals in Narbeth. It is now 1926 and Wilfred has married again to Flora who he is in love with most deeply.
His past painful marriage to Grace is a memory as she has fled to London, unwanted by her family and with a secret to hide. However the binds that tie Grace to Narbeth are strong, even whilst in London. It seems she has only one choice but to return to Narbeth. Will her presence upset Wilfred and Flora’s wedded bliss?
Whilst Grace has been away, life has changed for Wilfred, he is learning every day not just from reading the dictionary, he has completed A and is now on B but from being married. While he learnt everything about funerals and being the purveyor of superior ones from Mr Auden, he has no one to learn about marriage from. He wants to take it gently with Flora as he knows that perhaps she does not love him as much as he loves her. When a union between them results in tragedy, it seems that perhaps Flora is lost to another world.
Wilfred, conducting himself as a gentleman as much as he can, carries on. He wants to fight for his family and marriage and knows he must provide. He starts up his wallpaper shop, only to come unstuck with it in more ways than one. The gentle humour portrayed here is in contrast to some of the tragedy that is going on. This gives the book its wonderful human frailty quality. However, Wilfred believes in independence and he is content to teach his wife to drive so she can visit her mother, he wants to know her opinion on matters and involve them both in a rich and wonderful life together.
This glimpse of female emancipation far away in the Welsh countryside is reinforced by Grace and her exposure to the Suffragettes, the movement did not cease, after The Great War had ended. Grace starts to see them as the future, but her dark secret has followed her from Narbeth and she cannot accept help from these women. Can she?
This book is rich in character and landscape, it is a story that just travels along with no twists or turns but gives plenty to think about along the way. It is not just Wilfred who is philosophising, as a reader you do the same about the situations the characters are in. A sign of a good book when you care about the characters.
You can read this book without having read Wendy Jones The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals. However to get much more out of this book and that one, I would highly recommend reading it first and then moving on to this novel. You will be pleased that you just for a while, spent some time with Wilfred Price.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I feel most privileged as it is a beautiful hardback copy and the picture of the cover, does not do it justice. I only wish I had the first novel that way.
This is a fiction book without a doubt, set in the past which I suppose could make is historical fiction. What it can’t do is be put into a pigeon-hole. It does not follow any formulaic pattern as other books do, you actually do not know what you are getting when you pick up this book. That is what makes it a gem and I would recommend to anyone.
From the press release that was sent with this book, I see the first book it is to be adapted into a TV drama by the producers of Downton Abbey. In my opinion this will make gentle Sunday night viewing and I hope it is given the time, care and money it needs to make it a success.