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The End of the Alphabetby C. S. Richardson
Synopses & Reviews
The End of the Alphabet is a tender, intimate story of an ordinary life defined by an extraordinary love.
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.
"'An abrupt death sentence given to a 50-year-old London ad exec forces an uneasy deliverance in Richardson's smartly setup, poignant tale. Given less than a month to live, Ambrose Zephyr, alphabet-obsessed since childhood, decides to spend out his last days traveling around the globe from A to Z. Ambrose and his wife, Zappora Ashkenazi (the couple is childless), begin in Amsterdam, viewing art by Velzquez and Rembrandt that has been significant to them in their loving marriage, and now looks wholly transformed. The two move between the sweet memories of past love and an unreal present, from Berlin to Chartres, the Great Pyramids of Khufu to Istanbul; when Ambrose begins to falter and they return home to their Kensington terrace flat. Reality and good manners demand that they inform their respective employers and friends of Ambrose's condition, while Zappora, a fashion editor attempting to keep a journal of the couple's last moments together, endures until the end. Richardson's tightly focused tale has panache, shadowed by a brooding suspense.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An alphabet of the language of lovers, a beautiful fable of art and mortality: elegant, wise, and humane. I like to think of the happiness this book will bring. I'm sure it will be given as a gift between lovers, and will inspire many journeys — geographical and emotional." Chris Cleave, author of Incendiary
"A novel that can be read in a single sitting of less than two hours might continue to resonate with readers for weeks, months, even years." Kirkus Reviews
"Richardson's a book designer by trade, and the A-to-Z theme, from the characters' names to their lettered journey, reflects it....[A] tear-stained goodbye note and a heartfelt love letter." Los Angeles Times
"The End of the Alphabet is a lovely little novel that packs a big emotional wallop." USA Today
In a tender, intimate novel of an ordinary life defined by an extraordinary love, Richardson tells the story of a 50-year-old man who learns that he has one month to live. Reeling from the news, he and and beloved wife embark on a whirlwind expedition to the places he has most loved or has always longed to visit. The result is a timeless, resonant exploration of the nature of love, loss, and life.
About the Author
C. S. Richardson has worked in publishing for more than twenty years. He has received the Alcuin Award (Canada's highest honor for excellence in book design) several times, and lectures frequently on various facets of publishing, design, and communication. He lives in Toronto, Canada.
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