The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis























The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis

Welsh fiction

Original title – Y Gemydd

Translator – Gwen Davis

Source – review copy

To say I review translated fiction I haven’t reviewed many Welsh novels translated into English so when the chance comes to add another to the list of books I am always happy to review them. Caryl Lewis is a previous winner of the Welsh book of the year and was also translated into English by the same translator that book was two years before this book came out in 2007. She studied at Aberystwyth and Durham University and had worked in public relations before becoming a writer. She writes the welsh scripts for the crime series Hinterland.

Mari was sitting at the lip of the bed, the carrier bag in her lap and her mind light years away. It was evenoing, the night cluds coming in th colour the sky. She couldn’t keep her eyes of that photo of the bicycling girl, which she’d framed and placed on the mantlepiece along with the others.The girl seemed at home there, somehow: among friendly souls Nanw’s screech cut across the room. Mari choose another piece of meat. The monkey snatched it, swallowed most of it whole, squealing and groping between the bars for more. On her way home from work -passing the town square- Mari had seen Dafydd walking hand in hand with a slender, dark haired girl making sure they didn’t see her. Mari had stood there intil the cold settled around her

The loner Mari loves the freedom of a girl on a bike in an old photograph.

There is a cover song on the This mortal coil Album called the Jeweller about a Jeweller polishing with Ashes with the linesThe coins are often very old by the time they reach the jeweller., With his hand and ashes he will try the best he can. He knows that he can only shine them, cannot repair the scratches. Well this is a story of a Jeweller she lives in a lonely cottage by the sea in a welsh Town we are never told the name but there are so many small welsh towns by the sea we don’t need a name Mari shares her house with a cat and a Monkey like all monkeys he loves the little trinkets Around Mari house she has a market stall that she runs but she also loves the stories behind the pieces she gets a lot via her friend Mo that clears house and she has the letter and other pieces from those who had touched the jewels of the years from the house to go with the jewelry. But when the Market is Threatened with closer we find out what makes Mari the loner she is as her past is brought to light. Will she like the perfect gem she is trying to cut be able to gleam and sparkle in a new future and shed the past.

Those jewels were giving Mari a hard time. They were supposed to be healing, but having set them out on her stall after a sleepless night was making her brain fit to burst. She had broughtin all the clothes that were destined for the sale rail, They had been given prority over the jewellery, right at the front of the stabd: the white gloves hand in hand; the pink frock glad again to act the party girl and welcome all comers. Mari piled up the bags on one side of the glass counter and wrote the price on the card.

Her market stall but times are changing and it may close.

This for me ticked so many boxes small village/town life the people Mari learns about all add to this small town but also how it has changed. The turning point which is not just the town with the threat of the Market closing but also Mari in her life herself. Then there are the old lives Mari sees in the jewels she is selling on her stall. There is some wonderful turn of phrases that had kept through the translation like seagulls being compared to litter in the wind. This shows what we leave behind still has echoes of other’s lives but also we mustn’t cling to what holds us back at times. Have you read this or other books by Her ?

October 2019


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