Ambrose Zephyr is a contented man. He shares a book-laden Victorian house with his loving wife, Zipper. He owns two suits, one of which he was married in. He is a courageous eater, save brussels sprouts. His knowledge of wine is vague and best defined as Napa, good; Australian, better; French, better still. Kir royale is his drink of occasion. For an Englishman he makes a poor cup of tea. He believes women are quantifiably wiser than men, and would never give Zipper the slightest reason to mistrust him or question his love. Zipper simply describes Ambrose as the only man she has ever loved. Without adjustment.
Then, just as he is turning fifty, Ambrose is told by his doctor that he has one month to live. Reeling from the news, he and Zipper embark on a whirlwind expedition to the places he has most loved or has always longed to visit, from A to Z, Amsterdam to Zanzibar. As they travel to Italian piazzas, Turkish baths, and other romantic destinations, all beautifully evoked by the author, Zipper struggles to deal with the grand unfairness of their circumstances as she buoys Ambrose with her gentle affection and humor. Meanwhile, Ambrose reflects on his life, one well lived, and comes to understand that death, like life, will be made bearable by the strength and grace of their devotion.
Richardson’s lovely prose comes alive with an honesty and intensity that will leave you breathless and inspired by the simple beauty and power of love. THE END OF THE ALPHABET is a timeless, resonant exploration of the nature of love, loss, and life.
I came across this book while browsing the library shelves. I was looking for a book by a Canadian author, and the staff at the library facilitates the search by putting a red maple leaf on the books binding. And that's what made me pick up The End of the Alphabet. I quickly read the blurb and noticing how small the book was it went straight into my basket.
I wasn't expecting to be blown away by the book. I thought that the premise of the book was interesting but I didn't think I was going to develop an emotional attachment to the story. It has short chapters which makes it a quick read, it almost has a poetic feel to it, the story flowed. And so did my emotions: awe, curiosity and sadness. The tissues were always close by...just in case.
I even shared passages of this book with my husband. I don't always read out loud to him when I'm enjoying a book, but the story moved to a point that I needed him to understand how profound (not right word, but I cannot think of another) it was.
I enjoyed it so much that I'm planning on buying it and adding it to my shelves. I highly recommend it.
The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson (5/5) General Fiction; Published: Doubleday Canada (2007); New Author; Canadian Author; Favourite Reads 2009; Canadian Book Challenge 3 (5); 2009 100 + Reading Challenge (138);