As advertised the first book groups went ahead this week at Palas Print in Bangor.We discussed Margiad Evans’ first written work ‘Country Dance’, a novella set on the Wales England border. The book is one of the original publications of the Library of Wales series published by Parthian. More information about the series can be found here.
Unfortunately the morning session wasn’t as popular as Wednesday afternoon, nevertheless lots of conversation was had! After re-reading the book I was worried that the group might find it quite bleak and depressing. However, everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and one main talking point was how, despite its spare language and lack of description, it managed to keep us hooked right up until the end.
We had lots of ideas and discussed how the terseness of the language created an immediacy that compels you towards the female protagonist Ann Goodman. The group particularly liked the diary format as it helped in describing the harsh reality of life in rural Wales in the 1850s. We felt that Ann was a strong woman and didn’t necessarily need to be painted as the victim- she clearly knew her own mind!
Another talking point was Evans’ references to life in the border country. Being pulled back and two between two cultures and two languages it was interesting to see Ann’s relationships with her English and Welsh love interests. It was also interesting to consider the use of the Welsh language in a Welsh Writing in English book. We agreed that it added rather than detracted from Evans’ portrayal of border life.
I had read in an online review how Evans’ work had been compared to the Brontes’. However, most disagreed saying ‘Country Dance’ was a more real and honest depiction of rural bleakness. Another interesting comparison was Hardy’s ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’.
It was great to see that the first book choice was a success and everyone said they would go on to read more of Margiad Evans’ work. One book group member who is a writer even placed ‘Country Dance’ as an inspiration for his own work. A final point raised was the fact that Evans’ depiction of life in a border country would be appreciated by readers in other similar border situations, proving Evans’ books deserve to be appreciated internationally.
May & June Book Group Details
Here are the details for the next two books groups:
Wednesday May 15th @ 5.30pm. We’ll be discussing ‘Fresh Apples’ by Rachel Trezise.
Wednesday June 12th @5.30pm. We’ll be discussing ‘On the Black Hill’ by Bruce Chatwin.
Both meetings are at Palas Print Bangor.
You can get the books from the Palas Print website www.palasprint.com or copies are available at Bangor Library and Bangor University Library.