on 7 July 2009
Jan Morris' loving portrait of the small mid-Welsh town of Machynlleth is a classic. She paints vivid word pictures of the town at three stages in its life: the past (1404, when Owain Glyndwr held a parliament there at the height of his powers and success), the present and the future (when the town has become the charmingly low-key yet self-assured capital of an independent Welsh republic).
It is a beautiful and moving tale of a stubborn dream that refuses to die. The Welsh translation, by Jan's son, the Eisteddfod-winning bard Twm Morys, is delightful.
on 31 December 2008
This collection of three short stories is linked by the theme of the Welsh town of Machynlleth in the past (a fictionalised account of events during the Glynd'r rebellion), present, and future. There is a strong theme of Welsh nationalism throughout. And unfortunately, while the first story is entertaining and tells of momentous events, the second and third are rather more prosaic descriptions of the state of affairs, in which nothing of interest happens. The third is particularly poor, being a laughable description of a silly Welsh Utopia. This could have been so much more, but has been hijacked by the authors' politics. It's still worth reading, but only if you get it from the library or if you can find it really cheap second-hand.