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Five great books set in WALES

13th June 2020

Wales is the latest place for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Wales.

Five great books set in WALES

Lovely the woods, waters, meadows, combes, vales, All the air things wear that build this world of Wales‘ – Gerard Manley Hopkins

Here are five books to read that will immerse you in Wales, somewhere in time and with different characters and genres.

Shoes for Anthony by Emma Kennedy

As the youngest in a family of six, all eleven-year-old Anthony wants is a pair of shoes to call his own. Instead he’s condemned to wear a pair of hand-me-down wellies that may or may not be haunted.

When war comes to his small, impoverished mining village, life starts to get more exciting: there are American soldiers, his sister has joined the WAAF – Mrs Reece even has a banana! But it is only when a foreign plane crashes into the Welsh hillside that Anthony and his gang discover what war is really about…

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Halfway by B E Jones

If everyone is lying, who can you trust?

The Halfway Inn is closed to customers, side-lined by a bypass and hidden deep in inhospitable countryside. One winter’s night, two women end up knocking on the door, seeking refuge as a blizzard takes hold.

But why is the landlord less than pleased to see them? And what is his elderly father trying so hard to tell them?

At the local police station PC Lissa Lloyd is holding the fort while the rest of her team share in the rare excitement of a brutal murder at an isolated farmhouse. A dangerous fugitive is on the run – but how can Lissa make a name for herself if she’s stuck at her desk? When a call comes in saying the local district nurse is missing, she jumps at the chance to investigate her disappearance.

The strangers at Halfway wait out the storm, but soon realise they might have been safer on the road. It seems not all the travellers will make it home for Christmas .

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On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin

On the Black Hill is an elegantly written tale of identical twin brothers who grow up on a farm in rural Wales and never leave home. They till the rough soil and sleep in the same bed, touched only occasionally by the advances of the 20th century.

In depicting the lives of Benjamin and Lewis and their interactions with their small local community Chatwin comments movingly on the larger questions of human experience.

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Welsh Folk Tales by Peter Stevenson

This book, a selection of folk tales, true tales, tall tales, myths, gossip, legends and memories, celebrates and honours unique Welsh stories. Some are well known, others from forgotten manuscripts or out-of-print volumes, and some are contemporary oral tales.

They reflect the diverse tradition of storytelling, and the many meanings of ‘chwedlau’. If someone says, ‘Chwedl Cymraeg?’ they are asking, ‘Do you speak Welsh?’ and ‘Do you tell a tale in Welsh?’ Here is the root of storytelling, or ‘chwedleua’, in Wales. It is part of conversation.

This book, one to linger over and to treasure, keeps these ancient tales alive by retelling them for a new audience.

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How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

A poignant coming-of-age novel set in a Welsh mining town, Richard Llewellyn’s How Green Was My Valley is a paean to a more innocent age, published in Penguin Modern Classics

Growing up in a mining community in rural South Wales, Huw Morgan is taught many harsh lessons – at the kitchen table, at Chapel and around the pit-head. Looking back on the hardships of his early life, where difficult days are faced with courage but the valleys swell with the sound of Welsh voices, it becomes clear that there is nowhere so green as the landscape of his own memory.

An immediate bestseller on publication in 1939, How Green Was My Valley quickly became one of the best-loved novels of the twentieth century. Poetic and nostalgic, it is an elegy to a lost world.

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We hope this has given you a taste for books with a Welsh setting. Take a look at our database for close to 100 titles set here, and please feel free to add more!

Andrew for the TripFiction Team

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Comments

  1. User: Bookertalk m

    Posted on: 13/10/2020 at 8:48 am

    Luckily I don’t need transporting to Wales because I live here. Delighted to see this little part of the U.K. given the spotlight. There are so many talented authors in Wales that it’s a shame so few people know of them. How Green Is My Valley is a classic though people mistakenly think Llewellyn was Welsh.

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