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The End of the Alphabet

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  2,656 ratings  ·  552 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 c
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Anchor Canada (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  2,656 ratings  ·  552 reviews

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May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Winner 2008 Commonwealth Writer Prize for Best First Novel

I have read this book twice, each time in less than two hours; at 20K words this is probably more properly a novella, not a novel. But it’s a gem of a little book: C S Richardson’s tale is a tender and poignant portrayal of a couple very much in love, and how they differ in their reaction to inevitable loss.

At about age fifty, Ambrose Zephyr is informed quite matter-of-factly, that he has thirty days “give or take” to live. His doctor sp
If you wish to fill a couple of hours of your life with a nicely written weepie, this is for you. Is it a novella? It is 140 small pages, large margins, double-spaced text. I've certainly read lots of 'short stories' this length.

It does consider a dilemma I've often wondered about. There are those quick deaths - one moment you are vacuuming or cooking dinner, next moment finito la musica. Death displaces life and you scarcely even have time to register it. There are the long ones, where you know
Elizabeth (Alaska)
At first I thought this was a "cute" book. Its prose is completely unpretentious as are the characters. The presentation is unusual. One very short chapter that is only a paragraph long. Another is one long run on sentence, which fits in context. The underlying story, however, is anything but "cute". A man and his wife must face his impending death. He decides to do it by seeing the world alphabetically. 26 letters, 30 days more or less.

Sometimes a book happens when it is most personally meaning
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nadine Larter
I must admit that I particularly love books like this one. It’s so lovingly odd – almost like the author was told about these things called books and he then decided he’d try writing one. Don’t take that statement as insulting though. The End of the Alphabet is kind of refreshingly without pretention or strict structure. It reads like someone sat down and wrote something. Just because. Which is often the best kind of writing.

Ambrose Zephyr has only thirty days to live, and he has decided to spen
Edwina Callan
Apr 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, bookcrossing
I guess this book proves that no two people ever read the same book.
I started reading this back in Feb. but after 3 or 4 pages, I'd have to lay it aside or fall asleep. I finally forced myself to finish it today.
At 119 pages, this book shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to read, but it is so slow paced and boring and the characters are just so silly that I feel like it was a waste of paper to even print this rubbish.
Also, this is the first book I've ever read where the main character is
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
When Ambrose Zephyr finds out he only has one month to live from his doctor, he takes his wife Zipper to places he had wanted to see before he dies on a list from A through Z. Will his wife stand for it though? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good and sad read about living life to the fullest and cherishing it every day. Definitely check this book out at your local library and wherever books are sold.
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
The End of the Alphabet is what I would call a huggable book.

Ambrose Zephyr is a fifty year old, happily married Londoner. But then he is diagnosed with an unidentified terminal illness and given only a month to live.

Ambrose that he must to seize the day. And so, accompanied by his wife Zappora Ashkenazi (also known as Zipper) he sets off on a journey round the world, visiting each city on his list in alphabetical order.

Each stop evokes different memories, different emotions for Ambrose and Zipp
Aug 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alan by: bonny; notgettingenough
Shelves: novels
picked this up from the library today

wasn't keen. Thought about giving it two stars because it's far too whimsical for me. For example half way through the bloke - who's dying - can suddenly see across seas (eg Engalnd from France, even the USA from Cornwall) and into the past (when visiting the pyramids sees ancient egyptians at work on them). It's not believable but maybe it's not supposed to be. However that ruins the impact of his dying. Straight after I started reading Kyle Minor's book of
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This debut novel from a Canadian author had an interesting premise, a touching story, and fairly likable characters. There wasn't a whole lot that I didn't like about it, but I found the End of the Alphabet a bit difficult for me to love.

The writing style was mostly easy to read and straightforward, which was nice. I didn't particularly enjoy the lack of quotation marks for conversation, but that seems a bit trivial to complain about. It was a sad little story that had genuine emotion without fe
Diane S ☔
Ambrose and Zipper, married had made the decision to never have children, their careers and their relationship would be enough. Now in their fifties, Ambrose has just received the diagnosis that in a month or less he will be dead. It is never exactly said what his symptoms were nor what he had, just the news that he would be dead. What he has is besides the point, what the book is about is how they both react to the news and what they do. How they re-evaluate where they have been while they try ...more
Mieke Mcbride
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glad Laura recommended this one! She encountered it as a "blind book date" with only the first line and no other details written on brown paper on the book. "This story is unlikely," is how the book begins-- but no, this is not a book about magical realism or the supernatural. I imagine a point of the book is to think through what is unlikely. Being told in your 50s you only have a month to live? Having the resources to plan a hasty trip to as many places as possible, working your way alphabetic ...more
3 ⭐️

This is not my kind of book. I got it from a friend, thinking it was originally written in French and seeing how thin it was. I figured that, even if I didn’t like it, it would be short enough for me to finish it anyways. And that’s what I did.

I wouldn’t say it was good. But it wasn’t bad either. A kind of limbo between the two. It’s poetic, but not in verse. It’s cute and sad, but not enough to make me cry. It just is.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Are you the sort of man who wears black turtlenecks and loafers (sans socks)?
who enjoys interjecting french words and references into everyday conversations for the sheer thrill of it all?
who knows a few obscure composers or modern artists just well enough to reference them as old friends?
and who feels that traditional punctuation is just a tad, shall we say, confining?

Have I got the book for you...

This was an enjoyable book, but not what I expected. It turns the adventure-under-a-time-limit trope on its head. I liked the characters, but I didn't fall in love with them. I enjoyed it but I probably wouldn't read it again.
Cathy Sites
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clever tale with quirky lovable characters (reminiscent of A Man Called Ove) and a reminder that we cannot buy more time. Travel till the health or the wealth run out.
Brindi Michele
This had me in tears at the end. Loved it....the story, the characters, and the writing. Quirky but beautifully told. A quick, yet heartfelt read.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Short read. A little disjointed for me, but compelling nonetheless. Makes you hope.
Charming, bittersweet, & heartbreaking... in all the right ways.
Darrell Grizzle
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, thought provoking novella about the power of love in the face of death.
Jenna Sumar
Found the writing style a bit robotic and the plot based off of a convenient, unrealistic backstory... wouldn't reccomend. ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful story. Simply told with elegance and grace. I cried for nearly an hour.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is little but carries a big punch. What a beautifully written story.
Nathalie Gagnon
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a quick read... read it years ago... but it is memorable!! I recommend it...
raya (a little mango)
Death? Yes, yes, death hovers near us all. And it is sad that it makes us sad. But I know a story.

Such is the life of Ambrose Zephyr. At 50 years of age, Ambrose is diagnosed with a fatal but unidentifiable illness -- an illness that, within 30 day's time, will leave him dead. Yes, the doctor offered, writes Richardson, unfair would be a very good word about now. Zephyr's soon and imminent death, however, makes up only one element to this story.

Meet Zappora Ashkenazi, more commonly known as Zipp
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of book that when someone asks if you've read it, you gasp with pleasure and say how much you loved it. It's short but packed with beautiful language and beautiful images. ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Review from 2009:

I love this book. A quick read..but so much crammed into a small volume. I've read it and now, as with all the books I truly love, it's now my aim to own it.

Mission accomplished! I now own it in the hardback version pictured here.

Review from 9/10/13:

The End of the Alphabet by C. S. Richardson is a gorgeous gem of a book. I originally read this back in 2009 and am glad that the 2013 Bingo Reading Challenge gave me a reason to reread. It's a book that I find myself recommending ov
Crystal Allen
Aug 13, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very short and easy read so I'm not inclined to complain. It follows a married couple in the time span after the husband is informed by his doctor that he may have as little as thirty days left to live. He and his wife struggle against time to visit all of the places on an A-Z list he has hastily compiled. With barely over a hundred pages, the book maintains a fairly fast pace and a concise style, which is littered with flashbacks explaining the significance of the chosen destinat ...more
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CS Richardson’s first novel, The End of the Alphabet, was an international bestseller published in thirteen countries and ten languages. Winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Canada & the Caribbean), it was named on four Best of the Year lists and was adapted for radio drama by BBC Radio 4.

Richardson is also an accomplished and award-winning book designer. He lives and works in

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20 likes · 5 comments
“A man can see a hundred women, lust for a thousand more, but it is one scent that will open his eyes and turn him to love.” 66 likes
“When his father asked why A wasn't apple or B wasn't bird or C wasn't cat, young Ambrose explained that things didn't always have to be the way you'd expect. Everybody does apples and birds and cats, he said, and it's boring to do what everybody else does.” 9 likes
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