The Life of Rebecca Jones

Angharad Price

Translated from the Welsh by Lloyd Jones

Published 26 April 2012 by Maclehose Press

176pp, hardback, 12.99

Reviewed by Sian Miles

This generous, subtle and sophisticated work – Angharad Price’s second novel, winner of several prizes and now available in English – is a celebration of the author’s family’s thousand-year-old unbroken link to Maesglasau, a small sheep-farming valley in the Dyfi hills. Not often is such durée experienced, nor the concomitantly deep sense of place, referred to as ‘continuance’, described in this fictionalized autobiography of Price’s great-aunt. The opening chapter, a reflection on the meaning and source of tranquillity, sets the valley in epic context by introducing the contradictions between the peaceful landscape and its geological birth: ‘Who could imagine that this place was formed by volcanic fire? And that the bare slopes, the sheer cliffs and uneven pasturelands were worn to the bone by the gouging and scraping of ice?’

... This skillfully-wrought amalgam of glorious invention and keen observation concludes with the brief and startling revelation of its central conceit and a return to the decreating self at the heart of its making: ‘I too have lived in this valley’s quietness all my life...Cwm Maesglasau is my world. Its boundaries are my boundaries. To leave it will be unbearably painful. But this I know: when I move on and when my remains are scattered on the land of Maesglasau, I will have given my life to the fulfillment of this valley’s tranquillity. My obliteration will be its completion.’

 

Comments are closed.