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Shelf Awareness Starred Review: "Discover: A return to 1920s Narberth, Wales, where residents contend with changing social mores and the dramas of marriage, parenthood and fulfillment."

Date: Jun 12 2015

At the close of The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals, all seems well in tiny Narberth, Wales. Wendy Jones's debut concluded with a hard-won resolution, but in The World Is a Wedding, the author returns to Narberth to find that the state of affairs wasn't entirely tranquil, and the residents of the sleepy village are changing at the breakneck pace of the world around them.

Set in the U.K. in the 1920s, the novel traces the parallel stories of Wilfred Price and Grace Reece, his former fiancée who has since embarked for London, pregnant, unwed and ostracized from her family. As in Jones's previous work, it's a testament to her magnetic characters that the details she inserts, like the upstairs/downstairs politics of Grace's employ at the London Ritz-Carlton, don't overshadow the intimate dramas at the forefront of the story. As titillating as it is to meet bobbed-haired hotel aristocrats like suffragist Lady Lytton, the subtler tensions between Wilfred and his new wife, Flora, are equally compelling. The sensuous details of time and place embroider the conflicts that propel the story from small town to big city and back again.

At the novel's close, Wilfred's and Grace's affairs seem sorted, and this time, one gets the sense that they've truly taken stock of their own lives, for better and for worse. In fiction and in life, joy comes paired with sorrow, and sweetness tastes all the better after a bitter dose of truth. --Linnie Greene, freelance writer

Discover: A return to 1920s Narberth, Wales, where residents contend with changing social mores and the dramas of marriage, parenthood and fulfillment.