The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones, I fell head-over-heels in love with Wilfred, with the story and with Wendy Jones' writing. I was delighted to receive a pre-publication copy of The World Is A Wedding - the next instalment in the life of our hero Wilfred.
First, I have to say how beautifully presented The World Is A Wedding is. Published in September 2013 by Corsair, this really is a gorgeous looking book. A small hardback with the cover design embossed in gold and black print - no dustjacket, just straight onto the book - it's very lovely and a fine addition to anyone's bookshelf.
The story begins where The Thoughts and Happenings..... left off, and my advice to anyone who hasn't yet read the first book would be to get hold of a copy and read it first. The World Is A Wedding does work as a stand-alone story, but reading the first one really will enhance the enjoyment of the story, you'll find out a bit more about the characters, and how they found themselves in their current situation.
Wilfred is the town undertaker, the town is Narberth in Wales, the year is 1926. Wilfred is newly married to his great love Flora Myffanwy whom he met and fell instantly in love with on the day of her father's funeral. Both Wilfred and Flora have a past. Wilfred was briefly married to Grace, a girl he mistakenly proposed to and regretted until the day they divorced. Flora's first love was killed in the War. Wilfred is going to try extra hard with this marriage, he feels as though he's been given a second chance, although he does feel terribly guilty about Grace. Flora knows that Wilfred adores her, and although she wants to make him happy, she can't help but compare him to her lost love.
Grace fled Narberth after her divorce. Rejected by her cold-hearted Mother, let down by her weak Father and horrified by her hero-soldier brother, she finds herself a job as a chamber-maid at the Ritz in London. Grace has a terrible secret to hide, and London seems like the only place where she can be ignored.
Once again, this appears to be something of a simple and straight-forward story, but Wendy Jones has a knack of dealing with some pretty serious and at times, quite dark issues without losing the warmth and affection from the story. Her characterisation is amazing, she creates a cast that are deceptively simple, but are multi-layered and quite complex as the story evolves.
The World is a Wedding is a very worthy follow up to The Thoughts and Happenings ....... Wendy Jones has moved Wilfred on, he's become just a little more worldly wise, but has retained a touch of innocence and simplicity that endeared him to readers so much.
I must say a huge thanks to Sam Evans at Corsair, Constable & Robinson for sending my copy for review.
Wendy Jones grew up in 1970s suburbia, reading Mandy comic and eating Angel Delight for desert. Aged seven, she got a Brownie 'Hostess' Badge for which she set out a gold, wheeled trolley with a tea set and poured tea for the examiner.
Holidays were more productively spent at the 'end of the world in the west of Wales', playing in the undertaker's workshop and paint shop that belonged to an uncle. It was a lot more fun than being good in suburbia and has provided ample material for her novels.
The first person to do an MA in Life Writing at UEA, Wendy has a PhD in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths, where she teaches. She wrote Portrait of an Artist as a Young Girl, a biography of Grayson Perry, and hosts the literary programme 'Interesting Conversations' on Resonance104.4fm. The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals, the first in the Wilfred Price series, has been optioned for a television series by Carnival Films, the producers of Downtown Abbey.