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How Green Was My Valley

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As Huw grows, so does the vast heap of mine tailings--slag mountains that tower over the town, pressing in relentlessly on his home, the refuge that he and his family love so well. gbThere are flashes of positivity and possibility, with the local clergyman providing education in books, morals and carpentry, and humour, especially with the bad boys, Dai and Cyfartha, who wreak havoc and revenge wherever they go (but are revealed to be devoted and loving friends (a couple? It’s a bit grim in places but I coped with it and I’m not good with resilient reading for the sake of it! After everyone Huw has known either dies or moves away, and the town is reduced to a contaminated shell, he decides to leave, and tells the story of his life just before going away. I think I must have fallen in love with Bronwen even then and I must have been in love with her all my life since.

We know right off the bat that they were a mining family in Wales, at a time when the living had not become too hard for miners. The morality of “Chapel” is show in the true light of day–some are sincere believers who act kindly, others are full of their own importance and take pains to put people down–just like today. Huw readily agreed due partly to the close relationship that he enjoyed with Bronwen since she joined the family, but mostly to the love he had had for Bronwen since he was 6.Llewelyn gathered material for the novel from conversations with local mining families in Gilfach Goch. We see the family working and then trying to relax without being bored to death by the lack of entertainment. So everything is there for the perfect book: haunting coming-of-age-story; immensely likable main character, Huw; large, varied and loving family; idyllic setting—the 'green valley' of a Welch mining town; romance, drama and humor, even if it's all set to change. I loved that it detailed a way of life, harsh, but simple in a way, that is now lost for the most part. It was only after I finished the novel that it occurred to me that I don’t really know what any of the Morgans are supposed to look like.

One of my absolute favourites of the assigned novels I (as mentioned above) had to read for school, and yes, I am indeed very much personally pleased and tickled pink that my January/February 2019 perusal of How Green Was My Valley has stood the proverbial test of time for me and has been indeed in every fashion just as magical a reading experience this time around, for I was certainly more than a bit worried that I might not enjoy either Richard Llewellyn's prose style or the information he presents as much as I had as a teenager (but fortunately and gloriously, I need not have been worried, for How Green Was My Valley has indeed been a simply wonderful rereading experience for me, so much so that I will gladly give a five star rating, and yes, that said five star ranking pertains to both when I perused How Green Was My Valley as a teenager and now). Llewellyn's novel of a young boy growing up in Welsh coal mining country at the turn of the 20th Century is so realistic it was believed for years to be autobiographical, a myth Llewellyn himself did not discourage.The eldest boys are Ivor, Ianto, Davy, Owen and Gwilym Jr, and they were young adults already working in the pit with their father. Good jelly dripping and crusty, home-baked bread, with the mealy savour of ripe wheat roundly in your mouth and under your teeth, roasted sweet and crisp and deep brown, and covered with little pockets where the dripping will hide and melt and shine in the light, deep down inside, ready to run when your teeth bite in. My sister gave me her copy of this book in a big sack of books and snacks and magazines the morning my husband and I set out to drive across the country, moving to Delaware from Utah. And due to this, despite the myriad of characters that go in and and out of Huw’s life, it is easy to tell them apart after some time.

Me ha sorprendido la crudeza pero a la vez la ternura que desprende esta historia, y me quedo con sus personajes, con todos pero especialmente con nuestro protagonista. Towards the end of the novel, Huw’s world had become significantly different and smaller, and the reader is brought back to the present time where Huw is himself preparing to leave for an unspecified destination.A stage version, adapted by Shaun McKenna was performed at the Theatre Royal in Northampton in 1990.

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