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The Thoughts & Happenings of Wilfred Price: Purveyor of Superior Funerals - Book Review

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by TheOnlyFiona (subscribe)
In real life, I do discuss food exactly like how I write in my food review articles. As always my food reviews are scored only on what I've tried and the service expected of that type of establishment.
Published June 3rd 2014
20s era dramedy about a young and unlucky funeral director
To say that Wilfred Price is just a period drama (the '20s) does not do it justice. Wendy Jones has crafted interesting characters that are wonderfully simple no-nonsense types save for the title character. In the picturesque Welsh village of Narbreth, Wilfred is a young funeral director. He has learned his craft well but a complete novice when it comes to relationships. His naivety is both hilarious and frustrating you just want to throttle him at times.

Wilfred Price funeral purveyor
Wilfred Price by Wendy Jones

From his apprenticeship with Augmore Ormond, Wilfred learnt to focus on his work and to stay away from women until he was successful enough to provide for a wife. Unsurprisingly, once Wilfred starts to establish his business meeting a beautiful girl throws a spanner into the works. Wilfred proposes to Grace on the first day he meets her because he liked her yellow dress. But before Wilfred can take a second breath or realise his mistake, Grace's father the local doctor and company have started planning the wedding. Wilfred's natural meekness doesn't help and it takes meeting the intriguing Flora to make him summon up the courage to even speak to the doctor.

Wilfred Price would have simply worked well as a comedy. It ends up being more of a dark comedy that doesn't quite resolve all its plot lines. The novel would have worked much better if it was more of a lighthearted read. Wilfred's character development is rocked with many detours and it is great to see him grow up and take charge of his life by the end of the novel. Character development is prevalent for most characters, however Flora doesn't seem to get as much spotlight. Grace's subplot makes an upsetting development which does not reach a satisfying conclusion.

There are many issues that prove too much for Wilfred to handle. It is refreshing to see that he learns to stand up to Grace's father and to make both Grace and Flora understand that they can't just use him for their own purposes. However Wilfred is unable to break free of the expectations and fear of gossip from the people of Narbreth. He ultimately can't help Grace's plight and just enables her to flee the town instead of facing her demons. The novel would have been more satisfying if Grace's story arc was less tragic and more about standing up to the frivolity of her parents/town, for example eloping with someone her parents' disliked/the town shunned.

Wilfred Price has some great scenes dedicated to character development and many likable characters. However the overall comedy is saddened by the unsatisfying subplot. The main story line works well with interesting musings about the messiness of life.
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When: Out now
Where: All good book stores
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