The life of Rebecca Jones By Angharad Price

The life of Rebecca Jones by Angharad Price

Welsh fiction

Translator -Lloyd Jones

Angarad Price is a Welsh writer she grew up in the Wales and is a fluent Welsh speaker and professor of Welsh at Bangor university .The life of Rebecca Jones is her second novel it won the Wales book of the year .

When this drop through the door I read it was about a family in a Welsh valley ,my mind was drawn to Bruce Chatwin’s on the black hill ,that book set in the Welsh borders dealt with family and isolation from the outside world and a way of living like Rebecca’s that is very traditional  .But As I read the book ,another book a favourite of recent times for me sprung to mind that was stones in a landslide although set in spain a lot of the context ,subjects and ways of life seemed similar in both books  .This book is the story of a women’s life she is a Welsh women born to a family in the Maesglasau valley in the heart of Welsh speaking Wales where this family has lived for a 1000 years .As I read i  found it hard to believe this book was a translation,as  it read like it was written in english .So back to Rebecca and her family, and isn’t it an odd family because out of her four siblings three of them are blind from a genetic condition .The book follows Rebecca growing up in the valley and her  adult life ,but we also the brothers dealing with their blindness and when you think this was in the early parts of the twentieth century and the family lived in a remote valley but the parents made sure they got to the blind school and they all lived a full  life and work which was a real achievement at the time ,but this family was cultured there were books and talking about books in this families kitchen which I loved it seemed like a world I love to be in .The book is inter sped with photos .I m sure these are prices own family as the family is here Rebecca was here great-aunt ,the lads feature on a BBC  documentary in the 1960’s  I tried to find if this was on you tube but didn’t have any luck .

As a matter of fact , Tynybaich went to television rather than vice versa .In 1964 the journalist John Robert Williams came to interview us for the BBC Heddiw news programme .He’d heard an amazing story about the “three blind brothers ” from Tynybraich and wanted to make a short film

the BBC visited the valley .

Price has remind me how wonderful Welsh writing is at it’s best. but also very different at times from what you may say is the English novels from the capital . This book is short but after I finished it felt like I been through a 900 page novel such is the way she draws you into this families life . If wasn’t for the fact some things from 20th century are mention this story could be from anytime in the last few hundred years .What great shame it is with all the talk in the booker last year of readable books and literary books, well I d say you got one here that combines both and because it wasn’t in english originally it isn’t eligible that is a joke .This is a book that should be next to the like of Chatwin’s on the black hills  and Dylan Thomas under milkwood ,more important than them both it catches the Welsh speaking community of wales ,and reminds us of how we need to save the welsh language for future generations to enjoy and experience .

Have you read this book ?

Do you like welsh fiction ?

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Caroline
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 17:51:40

    Wonderful review, Stu. I have a friend who grew up in Wales and some of what you write about, like sitting in the kitchen, talking ober books, is just like she told me. It’s so rural but cultured at the same time. This is a book I would love to read.


  2. Heather
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 00:59:28

    Sounds like a very good book. What a story, three blind sons in one family. quite the challenge. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book.


  3. Tony
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 03:19:15

    Interesting that Welsh-language books aren’t eligible for the Booker – so would it be eligible for next year’s IFFP, I wonder…


  4. markbooks
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 09:27:37

    I’ve got this book and intend to get round to it. Totally agree with what you say about the importance of preserving the Welsh language. Why on earth aren’t they eligible for the Booker?!


  5. Violet
    May 01, 2012 @ 03:36:10

    I just borrowed this from the library, but haven’t read it yet. One of my Great-Grandmothers was Welsh, and I’ve always been a bit intrigued by Wales and its history.


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  7. mandrew11
    Jan 08, 2014 @ 21:21:12

    Following a recommendation by a colleague (they had read it in her Welsh book group) I proposed this book to my book group in south manchester. We will be meeting to share thoughts and experiences next Monday…
    Meanwhile the story of the family continues to live on in me; like an old rock at the bottom of a deep pool, every now and then causing a ripple on the surface. Having Welsh heritage on both sides of my family and continuing to regularly visit/sail around North Wales I loved what I can only call the ‘tweediness’ of the tale; it was woven like a piece of familiar welsh tapestry; warps of warmth and humour, wefts of harshness and isolation, bound by the shuttle pulling threads of complicated relationships – between family members and between individuals and the landscape in which they all sought (and found) something different – together.


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 09, 2014 @ 20:36:47

      Thanks yes she evoke the place so well my
      Mother lives in north wales and the places described did remind of times we have drifted in land from her home on the coast


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April 2012


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