June’s reading circle met to discuss ‘Si Hei Lwli / Twilight Song’ by Angharad Tomos. It was collectively felt by the group that Tomos captures the internal differences which plague present-day Wales within this text. The novel’s two principal characters, the elderly Bigw and the younger Eleni, embark on a road trip which creates a kind of microcosm of tradition versus modernity within the confined space of a car – a vehicle possibly symbolising the physical space of Wales itself. The car experiences recurrent problems, e.g. puncture, smoking bonnet, representing Wales’s inadequacy as a modern country. There is an inability to create synergy between youth and experience within the space of the car, as Bigw’s nostalgia for former times leaves Eleni feeling deprived of Wales’s ‘golden years’, instead occupying a hollow present, suffused with the disapproval of bitter older generations. The idea is effective, but it was felt that, on the whole, Tomos’s novella is a little joyless, and would benefit from an injection of humour. However, the text could be said to be ‘of its time’ – published in the early 90s, Wales was still deeply bruised by the rejection of devolution, and of being governed by a Tory government in Westminster.
Next month’s text is ‘My People’ by Caradoc Evans, a book which commands attention even one hundred years post-publication. The meeting will be held on Tuesday July 7, 7pm at the Harp, Bangor.