Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Richard Llewellyn - How Green Was My Valley

Some books, I am sure, seek you out.

I had gone to this second hand bookshop on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I was browsing through the books. Actually I was hoping to get some old romances which abound in these shops. Some Georgette Hayer, some Nora Roberts, a bestseller or two, pulp fiction. I did pick up Jackie Collins' Hollywood Husbands, ok, mission accomplished partially. Some more digging and I come across a collected works of Sherlock Holmes, great. And then this book by Richard Llewellyn falls into my hands.

Years ago, sometime in the 80s, Doordarshan (god bless it) used to show award winning (or acclaimed) films on late nights fridays. On one such evening, I was about to snooze off when I saw the start credits rolling for the movie How Green Was My Valley. A few scenes later sleep was far away from my eyes. I watched the movie mesmerised. I had absolutely no idea (as there was no google then) that this was a movie adaptation of an acclaimed book.

As was the movie so was the book. One chapter into it, and I was hooked. Llewellyn recreates life in a mining town in Wales with simplicity and candor. We get to know about a respectable family of Morgans. The father, Gwilym Morgan, the mother Beth and several brothers and sisters of the narrator Huw Morgan. The father is a true patriarch who holds his family together and plays an important role in the community. The mother is, likewise a matriarch who is able to manage her home and hearth well and keep a hospitable table.

The life in this family and the little community is ideal as long as all the members are able to stick to their roles. In such a perfect state, the little village can rival Eden. The local pastor Gruffydd is an able mentor to his folk. Even the owner of the mines, Mr Evans is not too inclined to greed and pays his men good wages. In such a scenario, the valley is beautiful and green despite the mining. The accidents in the mines are fewer, the people less ambitious, more god fearing and happy.

Soon, fissures start appearing in this Eden. Fear of exploitation by the owners bring in the Union which in turn makes the owners more wary. The new owners are greedy and want to dig more without a care for the environment, making the slag heaps rise higher. There are more accidents and women and children are suddenly made vulnerable by the rising deaths. People start leaving the village in search of a better future. The close knit little community crumbles.

This is backdrop in which little Huw grows up, and loves to distraction. He does not want to change this way of life and wants the Eden of his childhood intact.

We can feel the love with which the pretty portrait of a conventional life in a little Wales village is drawn. Like Huw, we want it to remain as it is, quaint and lovely. We want to see his father and brothers marching in home from the colliery covered in soot and rubbing it all off with a bath of hot water. Sitting down to a hearty meal with the pastor and later singing Welsh songs in their hearty voices. We want to see Bronwen, his beloved sister-in-law, happy in her domestic life with Ivor. His sister Angharad peeping out of the window to take a look at Mr. Gruffydd, hoping he would return her passion. Little Huw who finds love of his own when he takes Ceinwen over the hills.

It is a novel of epic proportions. I have found that the Huw Morgan saga continues in 3 more books by the same author. I hope I find these books too somewhere.

The movie - Superlative.
The book - of course more detailed and super-superlative.

Warning - I am devouring books these days.

16 comments:

Smita said...

Sounds like a different kind of book...

Planning to read all the other books as well?

Vee said...

I love the movie (I have told you this gazillion times by now I guess) .... I can see it any no of times. It surely falls in my top 10 of all time... Book? Hmmm, Lets see. I am not able to read anything these days and u r devouring...

avdi said...

Yes Smita. A different book in a nice kind of a way

couchpapaya said...

i love when u come across those unexpected finds in used book shops. a friend loves this book, it's the one she carries everywhere and all her copies are hopelessly dog-eared and stuff. she lent it to me but then put me under so much pressure abt wanting it back that i finally gae it back un-read. but, yes it's on my huge tbr somewhere!! had no idea there were sequels. did u score any other books??

avdi said...

Vee - You know I looked particularly for the scene where Huw gets into a fight with his bullying schoolfellows. The book was everybit as good as the movie..

avdi said...

I got these three books and one book on quotations. I am reading sherlock holmes right now. A friend has given me the location of some more second hand book shops.

The books is totally worth a read. Its a classic and no doubt about that.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Have not see the movie or read the book! Lucky you..devouring books these days...wish I could do that!

avdi said...

Yes Anup .. I am on a roll. And pleased with myself.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Time Travelers Wife is delayed for some reason and hence could not see it..they have not announced new dates for screening but when they do I'll try to watch it and send you my feed back...

avdi said...

Thanks Anup !

Anand said...

Ah hah. Since I like books better, Ill go for the book. I like the way u write..always....as ususal.

angharad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
angharad said...

I love this book so much (I first read it at about 12 because it was the first book I could find also with an Angharad in it!)... but, having read the next three in the series, I can't say that they are anything like as lovely. If you want to know how young Huw gets on, by all means try them (you can get them 2nd hand on Amazon, but they are hard to find by serendipity) but you may find, like me, that you come back to the first and the best for your refreshment of the spirit.

avdi said...

Angharad, Thats a lovely name. I have never heard the kind of names that I read in this book.

Even this book I found by serendipity. Amazon does not suit me because even if the book is cheap, by the time I chalk up the shipping (I live in Chandigarh, India) it gets to be too much. But I am hopeful of finding the books in public libraries. They sure do stock up on some great books at times.

Puskarr Deshmukkh said...

Hmmm Well Happy to seethat there aree certain souls who love "How Green Was My Valley".
Well I'm totally into childhood memoirs :) if yuh want to read similar books go ofr A.J. Cronin's books and following ones :)
1. Painted House - John Grisham
2. Wish You Well - David Baldachi
3. Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
4. 5 Quarters of Orange - Joanne Harris
5. Diary of Anne Frank
6. Angela's Ashes - Frank MacCourt
7. My Childhood - Maxim Gorkey
8. Boyhood - Lev Tolstoy
9. My Antonia- Willa Cather
and so on :)

Well pal, if yuh know any book like How green was .... pls lemme know.

I Ball Like Pee Wee Kirkland said...

If anyone is able to write a five page book report on this book im able to donate money email me jahmezis45@gmail.com

 
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