Richardson’s first novel is a slim 139 page contemplation on how one would spend the remaining days of a relatively uneventful life. Ambrose Zephyr is diagnosed with an unnamed incurable disease on his 50th birthday. After the initial shock wears off he embarks on a whirlwind trip with his wife, Zipper. (Don’t even ask about the ridiculous names.) He decides to visit one place for each letter of the alphabet. A is for Amsterdam and so on.
My book club was divided down the middle on this one. Some of the women really loved it. They thought Richardson’s pared down, choppy prose suited the story- giving it an urgency which was mirrored by Ambrose’s desperate attempt to pack as much into his remaining days as he could. Others, like myself, thought the book failed to connect the reader with Ambrose. How can you care about someone you know so little about?
1. Does Richardson’s writing style suit this story? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
2. Do you think Ambrose and Zipper had a good marriage? Why or why not?
3. It is suggested that this book is not overly emotional or sentimental because the protagonist is British. Agree or disagree?
4. If you were given just 30 days to live, how would you spend your remianing days?
1 clove garlic, chopped
1-3/4 cups whole, pitted olives (kalamata, black, green; use your favorite)
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed
2 Tbsp. capers
1 tsp. chpped fresh thyme OR 1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. white pepper
Combine garlic, olives, anchovies, capers, thyme, rosemary and lemon juice in an electric blender or bowl of a food processor. Slowly add the olive oil into the mixture while blending or processing. Blend until a paste is formed. Add pepper and stir.
Store the spread in the refrigerator, well covered. You can also make this recipe by using a mortar and pestle, or by chopping all ingredients together until very fine. The texture can be as smooth or as chunky as you like. Serve with crackers or crusty french bread. It can also be a sandwich spread; use with roast beef and hoagie buns for a rich sandwich.