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4.1 out of 5 stars24
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 30 July 2010
This memoir of Aeronwy's childhood is brilliant-she clearly had her father Dylan's talent for writing. The insight into her parent's marriage (Caitlin & Dylan Thomas)well, only one 'who was there' could have written such a brilliant & truthful account. She pulled no punches and told it how it was, not only her parents difficult marriage beset as it was with drink and dependence upon the charity of others to pay the bills, but she also tells with blinding honesty of her own little failings. I'd have liked to have known her!!

Much of what she says-particularly homelife, the rows & Caitlin's ancient Irish stews I was told about in the 1950's by my friend-author Henry Treece who stayed with the family in Laugharne. Indeed Treece wrote the first ever critique of Dylan Thomas 'Dog Amongst the Fairies'-not well received by Dylan Thomas!

For someone living in Wales & familiar with the many landmarks,the Boat House & Brown's pub as described in the book it has been a great pleasure to read.
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on 24 May 2013
Aeronwy Thomas's memoir may be called My Father's Places, but Dylan Thomas is the book's peripheral figure. There can be no doubt, however, that when he does appear, dishevelled and drunk, it's usually in the guise of an unsuitable parent. And Caitlin is much the same. What is surprising, though, is just how forgiving Aeronwy is. Many neglected children would seize the chance to reopen old psychological scars, but she thankfully resists the urge. Instead, we get a candid account of her parents' marriage, a tempestuous union remarkable for its longevity.

The bulk of the book focuses on the Boat House, the idyllic dwelling funded by the poet's patron, Margaret Taylor. Despite Thomas writing some of his finest poetry at this time, his daughter contrastingly evokes the family's slide into poverty and disintegration. Nevertheless, at times, her retelling veers into nostalgia. Most readers will only want to hear about her father, and it's no surprise that the narrative perks up when he shuffles out of the margins and into the book's centre. For the rest, it seems her reflections are for an audience of one: Aeronwy Thomas.

And who can blame her? A fondness for introspection was always going to be the likely outcome. Left to her own devices, she could be 'passed on the street without [her father] recognizing' her, while her parents, going out boozing, would leave her alone 'every night, at six years old, to look after Colm' (her younger brother). In amongst such tales, there is one despicable revelation. At only a few months old, Aeronwy would be 'left alone at 7 p.m. sharp' as her parents went off carousing, therefore leaving their newborn to 'the cold, the falling plaster, the rain from the glass roof, and the bombs' of the Blitz. Such passages leave the reader speechless.

Throughout the book, Aeronwy yearns for closeness with her father. The bond surfaces when the pair read The Wind in the Willows and then promptly disappears. So: an inevitable question arises: did Thomas love his children? Yes, it would seem so, although it's clear they were something of a burden to him, both emotionally and financially. Does he deserve his daughter's idolatrous memoir? Not really. If anything, the poet comes across as a deeply flawed man and wildly inept father, and while there may have been a sporadic perfection in his work, it came at some cost to those around him.
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VINE VOICEon 14 September 2011
Aeronwy Thomas, who died in 2009, has written a melancholy account of her childhood and while there were clearly many instances of gaiety and love while she was growing up, her wayward and sometimes violent mother, Caitlin, and her father, Dylan, a poet of genius, offered a bizarre family life. The book was written she explains in an Afterword over a ten year period and this long time shows in the episodic nature of the story. None the less Aeronwy's account is touching and fair in terms of the way in which she writes of her parents. Their care, let alone love, for their children was intermittent to say the least, and her portrait of the time and the place, mostly Laugharne, in Carmarthenshire, is a valuable addition to the many biographies of Caitlin and Dylan.

Recommended.
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on 1 May 2013
The book arrived promptly in excellent condition.
The descriptions were evocative of Laugharne in the 40s & 50s and gave an unsentimental account of Aeronwy's childhood within a family which could well be described as"dysfunctional" in some respects. Her depiction of her mother is much clearer than of her father who was often referred to as "Dylan". Her mother's explosive character, violent changes of mood and occasional neglect of her young children is recorded without criticism or judgement. I felt that Dylan was quite a shadowy figure who was often locked away in the writing shed, drinking in Brown's but occasionally gently reading a children's story at bedtime.
Aeronwy's writing shows elements of her father's talent for depicting scenes of Laugharne without some of the over-complexity characteristic of Dylan's style.
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on 12 February 2012
Saw this book in the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea and
had to buy it. What a great cover.
Whatever Aeronwy Thomas writes is alright with
me as she was there and I am interested to hear
anything about that time and place.Shes not a great
writer herself perhaps but this is a fine enough job
It must have been tricky to write this account
and not cause offence yet remain true to herself.
Love the look, feel and subject of this book
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on 20 August 2013
a very frank and lyricaly written read, an honest insight into her families daily life, and the culture of the era. read this book then visit laugharne and the boathouse on the estuary, its a magical place.
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on 19 September 2013
An interesting insight into the life and times of Dylan Thomas.
I enjoyed the descriptions of the house and village.
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on 3 July 2014
A very charming book. Written with obvious love and affection for both her parents. The delivery was well within time as I have come to expect. It is a book that both of us will return to in the future. She has captured the life at Laugharne brilliantly as we have visited it many times. What an interesting life Aeronwy lived. A very clever lady and we regret not having met her. For lovers of Dylan I would highly recommend this book.
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on 17 August 2014
A factual note but importnt. Contrary to the description of thi book, Dylan did not start work on Under Milk Wood at Laugharne, he finished it. It was started several years before in Newquay and most of the pllay is inspired by the toown and its inhabitants not, as is widely thought, Laugharne which furnished some of its key players notably Butcher Beynon and (it is thought) Captain Cat
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on 9 September 2009
Aeronwy Thomas was six when, in 1949, she moved with her father, Dylan and pregnant mother, Caitlin into the Boat House at Laugharne. This memoir describes vividly the places in coastal south Wales, alive with crabs, fish, dogs, friends, visitors, inhabitants that she shared with her parents during the following four years.
Beautiful Caitlin, reluctant housewife, continually bursts into the narrative, walking, dancing, swimming, sunbathing, smoking. She imposes a routine on Dylan. When he returns from his morning session of drinking and gossiping in Brown's Hotel, she feeds him before locking him in his writing shed where, when not reading thrillers or composing begging letters, he can be heard reciting the poem on which he is working. At 7 pm the prisoner poet is released and both parents take the cliffwalk to the pub.
Aeronwy's elder brother, Llewelyn considered his mother 'cruel, feckless and thoughtless'. Aeron tells how, as a newborn baby during the blitz, she was left alone every evening in a studio flat in London. Later, whenever she was naughty in Laugharne, Caitlin had no hesitation in beating her bare bum with a hairbrush until sitting was painful. However, Aeron throughout the book is sympathetic to both parents and sides with neither when telling of fierce, physical fights that followed revelations of infidelity during Dylan's American tours.
No-one can accuse Aeronwy's parents of being over anxious, though given freedom, but very few material things, the child found within herself resources to make the most of her surroundings, create imaginary worlds and develop an instinct for survival. Assuming her memory is reliable, we discover she had a friend who was frowned upon by adults, visited the dying dog of a reputed pedophile, accompanied a suspected murderer to feed a pig, and came to no harm. Few of us would want to take chances like this with our children. Aeronwy Thomas died, aged 66, a few weeks before this book was published. The effect her parents had on her achieving her potential can only be surmised.
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