Publisher Format: Doubleday (2007), Hardcover, 119 pages
Subject: facing death
Source: public library
This is an exquisite little book. It is difficult to classify it. Certainly it's fiction. It's a love story, it's a story of grieving, of fear, of loss, of death. But it's a story of celebrating life, of empowering each other by letting go, of suffering loss and experiencing growth.
Layered onto the life story however is a very very clever play on words and letters. The cover flap describes the basics:
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.When Ambrose is told by his doctor that he has only thirty days to live, he and Zipper set out on an alphabetical journey to fulfill Ambrose's many childhood dreams of the alphabet being spelled out in places vice objects. Ambrose's alphabet wasn't "A is for apple, B is for bear", his was "A is for Amsterdam, B is for Berlin" and so on. The frantic and frenetic race to see all his beloved dreams is written so crisply, in such elegant, reduced text, that the reader is able to read the 119 pages in one sitting. You put this down and realize that you have practically been holding your breath until the end. It's a book to be shared by lovers, a book to read again, and a beautiful expression of lives well lived.
Do yourself a favor - - get a copy, grab a cup of tea and curl up. You won't regret it.