Wendy Jones - Europa Editions - 2014
“It was because of a yellow dress. She was wearing a yellow dress and her arms were bare. It was slightly tart, the colour of lemon curd. He couldn’t remember seeing a dress in that shade before. It was pleated silk and sleeveless, with a low waistband and a square neck that was slightly too low, perhaps only by half an inch. Wilfred wondered how she got the dress on. Maybe there were hooks and eyes hidden on the side, under her arm. Ladies dresses sometimes had those. Women hooked and encased themselves in their dresses but there was always a way out."
A beautiful day, a picnic in a garden and a woman in a "yellow dress" in 1924, turns out to be a disastrous combination for 27 year-old, still a virgin, undertaker, Wilfred Price. Caught up in the moment of her loveliness, Wilfred blurts out to Grace Reece, a woman he barely knows, "Grace, will you marry me?" She accepts his proposal on the spot.
Although, he retracts his proposal, Grace doesn't seem to acknowledge it. Meanwhile, Wilfred can't stop thinking about the lovely Flora Myffanwy. Flora's father has died and Wilfred handled the funeral. The grieving Flora lost the love of her life in the Great War, and now her father has passed away. She and Wilfred had been spending time together on Saturdays and their fondness for one another continues to grow.
Meanwhile, Grace tells her father she is pregnant, and her father, the local doctor, forces Wilfred to marry Grace. Wilfred doesn't have a clue about the pregnancy, and why would he suspect anything especially since he and Grace have never been intimate. Now poor Wilfred feels he must marry Grace or his funeral business will be ruined. He is afraid that he will not be able to support his widowed father. After a quick wedding, Wilfred begins to feel that he's preparing for of his own funeral, wondering whether, he will ever feel joy in his life again, when Flora is the woman he wants to be with.
Set in rural Wales -- Narberth, Pembrokeshire, this was a wonderful old-fashioned comedy of errors story. The writing is wonderful, especially the fine details of daily life in a small village. The scenes and vivid and the story memorable. The characters drive the story and, it was refreshing to see how much the characters thought about the feelings of other people before acting. In some ways this made Wilfred appear weak, yet I admired him for this gentlemanly quality. For me, this was a refreshing, rewarding reading experience. I'm not surprised that this has been optioned for a mini series by the producers of Downton Abbey.
(eGalley - Edelweiss)