It is a slow book to get into, and at first it seems to be a shallow excercise in nostalgia. But the undercurrents soon appear, of politics and family tensions, that will grow and evolve throughout the course of the book.
Yet though the idyllic landscape of Huw Morgan's childhood is perhaps doomed from the outset, he - looking back on this time as an old man - can both appreciate his days with an adult's hindsight, and also through the eyes of his younger self.
The latter aspect is what makes this book a classic. I have not read another novel which captures what it is like to be a child so well. Aspects of the young Huw's character - his occasional arrogance, his fascination with mundane things - make sense when we consider what we were like at his age. But what is really astounding is how the excitement, joy, innocence and love of childhood are recreated by Llewellyn - when he writes of the sound of Welsh voices echoing round the valleys, it is as vivid as one of your own cherished childhood memories. However, Llewellyn is not merely dabbling in nostalgia. He portrays Huw growing up, and the mixture of bitter disappointments and greater joys and responsibilities this brings.
Throughout the novel there is a strong sense of character, yet tempered by Huw's narration. The result of this is that, though some of the characters (Huw's brothers, for example) are seemingly not totally fleshed out, this is clearly done on purpose. It's hard to explain, but Llewellyn sticks to his first-person narrator to the extent of only showing characters how Huw saw them at the time, whilst letting in a little bit of hindsight.Read more ›
I can honestly that this is probably one of the best books I have ever read.