Most Helpful First | Newest First
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not a romantic view of small town Wales,
This review is from: One Moonlit Night (Paperback)One Moonlit night tells the story of a small boy in an un-named town in North Wales. This book sits well alongside Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, for this seemingly quiet backwater has a soap-opera life of sadism, sexual perversion, adultery, insanity and domestic violence. Add to that the backdrop of the mysterious Black Lake, the bogey-men who inhabit the adjoining forests, miraculous healings and visions, and the reader soon sees that beneath the "church-going" veneer, this book does not depict an idealised or nostalgic view of small town Wales.
Prichard was a wonderful writer. I found myself easily swept into the un-named boy's stories as he roams the streets and quiet countryside around his home with his friends Huw and Moi. The boys are at that phase of boy-hood just before teen-age interests replace childhood inquisitiveness. This is matched with a relative independence which gives them a freedom to roam go where they please without too many restrictions. The village is full of gossip and stories and the boys pick up with relish on the intrigues and minor scandals of small town life, passing on stories to their scandalised parents who seem unable to wholly bring their own behaviours into line with their moral pronouncements.
The boy's mother is a widow living on Parish benefit, and life is a struggle. A favourite meal seems to be potatoes in milk, and bread and butter is the staple food - but not in as great an abundance as the boy would like. Neighbours and relatives are generous within their means and nobody seems to go hungry despite the grinding poverty of much of their lives.
The Bible is an important part of their lives. It is read and memorised, and memories are still strong of the Great Revivial of 1904/05 when whole villages were swept up in religious fervour. It is interesting to see however how the revival fires have largely died down and are being replaced with an almost folk religion of visions and voices.
Nothing can quite describe the lyricism of this book. Although it is a translation, it still retains a poetic, mythic quality in which the reader is drawn into the mystery which surrounds these peoples' lives. Every so often Prichard departs from his story to launch into an almost psalm-like passage extolling the wonders of the earth. These passages remind us that it may be impossible to discern the borderline between the hallucinatory and the reality of the boy's experience. This is not just an Angela's Ashes tale of childhood poverty but shows a very Welsh desire to get behind the meaning of things, to remember that we feed on the Bread of Heaven as much as the food on our plate.
I greatly enjoyed this book. It is short and not at all a difficult read, but is a book which will be remembered for a long time to come.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely evening for a walk,
By A Customer
This review is from: One Moonlit Night (Paperback)Imagine, in your old age, returning to the village where you grew up; wandering through the ghostly old haunts of your childhood in the eerie light of a full moon; each and every landmark representing a rare happy or painful memory in your life. And what a life. Through the medium of lively, 'speech mark free' narative of a North Wales slate village at the turn of the 20th century, we delve into the traumatic past of a nameless man who has returned to his native village for the last time. We are thrown into a world of chaos where most of the inhabitants are either mad, sexually perverted or suicidal - all of whom play a part in the rise downfall of the main character. A brilliant read - the author manages to portray his native village with such accuracy and vividity, always succeeding to maintain an incredible thin line between laughter and sadness in a world of unbelieveable suffering and pain. One can compare this novel with Angela's Ahes - a rare insight into the mind of a child that is sometimes hillariously funny and sometimes terribly tragic. A must.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enthralling!,
This review is from: One Moonlit Night (Paperback)one moonlight night is an astounding novel, telling the tale of someone reminiscing about their boyhood in a North Wales slate community. His boyhood memories of his first crush, a friends death from TB, the South Wales miners strike, unveil the darker underbelly of drunkenness, perversion, his mother's breakdown and the treatment dealt out to unmarried mothers by the church. Caradog Pritchard reveals himself most of all though, as a vivid storyteller and superior literary talent. The translation into english also has to be singled out for praise as the starkness and beauty of Pritchard's prose is seamlessly translated from the Welsh, taking nothing from it. Excellent stuff!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un Nos Ola Leuad,
This review is from: One Moonlit Night (Paperback)This is a terrific piece of Welsh literature. The prose, excellently postulated by Pritchard is of equal comprison to Thomas's 'Under Milkwood' and McCourt's 'Angela's Ashes'; as a depiction of social turpitude and the insensitivity of a grown-up world seen through the eyes a child. The story (wrote as a stream of conscienceness) by a unknown sole narrator as he revisits characters in the village of his boyhood is touching upon Prichards own autobiographical account of his early past. Prichard explores complex issues through the simplicity of his composition, indeed, the book is easy to read, the translation capturing the essence of the Welsh prose, yet still leaving an impression of the multitudious images and emotional colours of a traumatic childhood spent amongst a backdrop of social inaptitude. This is not to state that the novel, is in any way, completely melancholic, albeit as the narrator traces his passage of rite from the innocence of childhood to the sharp realities of early adulthood the book is littered with poetic anecdotes of the felicious times spent with his friends and close family, especially his mother.
The novel can be approached by various directions, as viewed by the readers own predilictions. It is an invaluable insight for the student of Welsh social history. Indeed, Prichard delivers a panoramic view of life in a small industrial (slate) community in North Wales. Following the religious fervour of the Welsh valleys, highlighting the strike of the South Welsh miners, and exposing the spirit of a community that wears its secrets in public. Thematically, Prichard captures the carefree attitudes of childhood...the bonds of school yard fiendships, the crush on the girl next door, the inventiveness of boyhood games. Yet underpinning this innoxiousness of youth lays the imcomprehension of the death of a childhood friend, the trauma of domestic violence, drunkeness, corruption, and the profligation of sexual depravity, Prichard lays it out, warts and all.
This is a must read book for the student of Welsh literature. Overall, it is an easy to read novel, yet full of complex social relationships, exploring the themes of love, hate, religion, death, loss, hunger, pain, happiness, dreamworlds, suffering, physical hardships, metaphysics, friendships, worry, stress, in short articulating on the ordinary and the sublime...this book has it all!! In essence it explores human nature, an enjoyable read and an excellent insight to comparative Welsh literature and history...a must read!!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Moonlit Night,
This review is from: One Moonlit Night (Paperback)This is an amazing small book. Simple on the surface but so profound and thought provoking. It is a translation from Welsh, but keeps the atmosphere and nuances of the small Welsh town in which it is set. My advice is to find a copy and read it!
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange and wonderful find,
This review is from: One Moonlit Night (Kindle Edition)A welsh friend recommended this for our book group. I could not get into it, then I read the intro by Jan Morris, and went back this times more slowly, and was captured by the language and the story. This should be a classic, alongside Cider with Rosie, or the Gobetween.
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit unusual?,
This review is from: One Moonlit Night (Paperback)I liked this book. Not sure that someone outside Wales would 100% appreciate the nuances of the Welsh character - which comes over very well in this book! Gave us a lot to talk about in book club and if you want to get more into Welsh authors I would recommend this one. It was well written in relation to letting you understand the characters, but the ending was a little unexpected - all to the good!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sublime,
This review is from: One Moonlit Night (Paperback)Firstly, my heartfelt thanks to Philip Mitchell for translating this work, which otherwise would have been lost to non Welsh speakers. Since childhood I've been an avid reader, and very occasionally I encounter a book which is truly breathtaking. I want to tell the world to read 'One Moonlit Night'. For forty years I've thought 'Under Milk Wood' could not be challenged for excellence, but at the age of 52 I've discovered I was wrong.
Gripping from the first sentence to the last: this is far more than a narrative. Read it and weep.
I cannot recommend it highly enough.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky Welsh classic,
This review is from: One Moonlit Night (Paperback)Used this for Book Group discussion - excellent as it was an enigmatic and unusual read.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
One Moonlit Night by Caradog Prichard (Paperback - 8 Jan 2009)