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The End of the Alphabetby C S Richardson
Synopses & Reviews
Ambrose Zephyr and his wife Zappora Ashkenazi (Zipper) have achieved a happy and balanced life together. She is the yin to his yang. He is the only man she has loved without adjustment. The two live contentedly in a narrow London terrace full of books.
That contentment is thrown into turmoil on or about Ambrose's fiftieth birthday, when they receive the news that he has contracted a mysterious illness that will most certainly lead to his death within the month. In panicked delirium, from beneath their bed Ambrose withdraws an oxblood suitcase containing the ephemera of his long-suppressed life's ambition: to travel the world in a pilgrimage through the alphabet, from Amsterdam to Zanzibar.
Scuttling the responsibilities of their respectably successful careers, the two set off on an urgent voyage through real and imagined geographies of place, of history, of art, and of love.
Zipper is continually frustrated by Ambrose's reticence, but loves him beyond all measure. And Ambrose well appreciates his miraculous good fortune in having Zipper by his side, drawing out the best in him. Zipper does not completely understand Ambrose's compulsion to pursue his childhood dream, but her commitment to him is absolute and so she, too, is compelled to make this journey.
In Amsterdam, they revisit past debates on beauty and art. In Berlin, they weigh the burdens of history. In the glow of the Chartres windows, they explore the stations of life. In Deauville, they fondly recall their youthful love. At E, Ambrose adjusts his long-drafted itinerary, crossing out Elba and replacing it with the Eiffel Tower of Zipper's beloved Paris, the city of their first predestined encounter. Whileresting in Florence beside the youthfully vital David, they meet a chivalrous old man who shares his insight into enduring romance. It is in Giza that Ambrose begins to falter as he climbs a pyramid, and they miss Haifa thanks to a sandstorm. In Istanbul, they realize that Ambrose can go no further and they must return to their London terrace.
But their voyage is not over. The two continue their odyssey, no longer via plane and rail, but now through the power of shared desire and love. The wise words of a hallucinatory camel in Ambrose's fevered dream ring out to them with equanimity: Why, you ask? There is no why, Master Zephyr. Life goes on. Death goes on. Love goes on. It is all as simple as that.
In the tradition of romantic legend and fable, The End of the Alphabet is a lovingly rendered, richly nuanced treatise on the nature of true and enduring love. The story of Ambrose and Zappora is a precious gift, one that illuminates a pathway to the return of balance and joy after unthinkable loss.
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
Richardsons 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.
Ambrose Zephyr is a contented man. He shares a book-laden Victorian house with his loving wife, Zipper, and would never give her the slightest reason to question his love. Then, just as he is turning fifty, Ambrose is told that he has one month to live. Reeling from the news, he and Zipper embark on a whirlwind expedition to the places he has loved or always longed to visit, from A to Z, Amsterdam to Zanzibar. As they travel to Italian piazzas, Turkish baths, and other romantic destinations, 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.
About the Author
CS RICHARDSON is an award-winning book designer with more than twenty years experience. He lives in Toronto.
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