The World is a Wedding by Wendy Jones
|The World is a Wedding by Wendy Jones|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: It might seem a treat to welcome these wonderful characters back into our worlds, but while fine enough this does suffer in comparison to the brilliant first book.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: September 2013|
They say one door doesn't shut but for another opens. Wilfred Price, the most amenable 1920s Welsh undertaker in literature, is living proof of that. He took his beloved Flora Myffanwy to be his, after they both fell in love at her father's funeral. It did leave Grace alone and bereft, and forced out of town in a very unsavoury fashion, but for Wilfred and Flora married life is fine. Hesitant, but fine. He's finally got into the swing of things as regards calling her dear, and conjugal relations, and she has finally felt able to speak up about her place in the household of her husband and his father – and whoever happens to be left to settle in the workshop, having died on the loo and got stuck in a non-coffin-shaped pose. But do those doors stay firmly shut…?
Writing a sequel to the first book in this series must have been an obvious idea for its author, if not perhaps for this reader. And unfortunately there is a sense that it hasn't lived up to expectations. I know the first was frothy, frivolous and very gently humorous, but it had a (albeit padded) kick to it, with a charm to the romance, a strong sense of an under-used location in time and geography, and brilliantly fresh characters. Here a lot of that is undermined. Grace goes on her separate ways, and while she provides for some archness in London by falling in with Suffragettes she takes the books out of the fantastical and whimsical that overpowered my memories of the first. Lightning fails to strike twice at home, either, as we could never see the places and people of south Wales with such newly open eyes as before, and only a hilarious cameo or two from the Prime Minister can take away the feeling as one gets to the halfway point that this has all been a little too soapy and inconsequential. Cleverly devised and well-researched (the woman in her mid-twenties having her first ice cream, and a five minute driving test), but inconsequential.
But then of course, things change, and then of course one is in a dilemma of what kind of book did we want? You can relish the meaty, sincere and darker parts, which have an emotional punch courtesy of the ever-crisp and clear writing, or the exceedingly warm lilt to the Welsh-accented dialogue and Wilfred's perpetual self-awareness and well-meaning exercises in proving and bettering himself, which always make the reader shine to him.
It's just a shame that as it stands you don't get the two perfectly married, as my memories of the first book suggested they had been there. And while it was a pleasant delight to be invited back into this world, on second look the novelty has lost its lustre, and will have very little of it anyway for those who come to this without the first book under their belts. In a suggestion of a third I'm reluctant to say I have my doubts, for this was still enjoyable and engaging, and never really became bad. It just never managed to become as great as everything was at the first time of asking.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
It's markedly different, but Longbourn by Jo Baker has a cleverness and humanity in common with Wendy Jones.
You can read more book reviews or buy The World is a Wedding by Wendy Jones at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The World is a Wedding by Wendy Jones at Amazon.com.
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