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How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn Review

Title: How Green Was My Valley

Author: Richard Llewellyn

First published January 1, 1939

513 pages, Kindle Edition

Rating: 4.2


Winner of the National Book Award in 1940, How Green Was My Valley is a timeless masterpiece that captures the beauty and heartbreak of a Welsh mining town. Huw Morgan, the youngest son of a respectable mining family, reminisces about the days when his home valley was prosperous, verdant, and full of life.

But as the mines came to town, the town’s fortunes changed, and Huw’s story is a poignant reminder of the human cost of progress. Richard Llewellyn’s richly crafted language and memorable characters will transport you to a place and time that exists only in memory.

This novel is a must-read for anyone who loves great literature.

About the Author

Richard Llewellyn, a British novelist, was born in Hendon, North London in 1906 to Welsh parents. Although he claimed to have been born in St. Davids, West Wales, it was later discovered that this was not true.

However, his Welsh heritage played an important role in his life and writing.

Many of Llewellyn’s novels explored Welsh themes, with his most famous work being How Green Was My Valley (1939). This novel received international acclaim and was adapted into a classic Hollywood film.

It depicted the life of the coal mining communities in the South Wales Valleys, where Llewellyn spent some time with his grandfather. He wrote three sequels to this novel.

Throughout his life, Llewellyn traveled extensively and lived a varied life. Before World War II, he worked in hotels, wrote a play, worked as a coal miner, and wrote his most famous novel.

During World War II, he served as a Captain in the Welsh Guards. After the war, he worked as a journalist and covered the Nuremberg Trials.

Later, he worked as a screenwriter for MGM. In the later years of his life, he resided in Eilat, Israel.

Llewellyn’s novels often featured protagonists who assumed new identities, particularly when transplanted into foreign cultures, including a spy adventure that spanned several volumes.

Llewellyn was married twice, first to Nona Sonstenby from 1952 to 1968, and then to Susan Heimann in 1974.

Editoral Review

How Green Was My Valley is a literary classic by Richard Llewellyn that was first published on January 1, 1939. The book is set in a Welsh coal-mining town and explores the themes of family, tradition, industrialization, and social change.

Llewellyn’s rich and lyrical prose makes this a beautifully written novel that has stood the test of time. The story is told through the eyes of the narrator, Huw Morgan, who is the youngest son of the Morgan family.

The Morgans are a proud working-class family that values their Welsh heritage and the traditions that come with it. The book follows the lives of the Morgan family as they navigate the changes brought about by the industrialization of their town, especially the impact of coal mining on their health and the environment.

The characters are well-developed, and Llewellyn takes care to give each member of the Morgan family their own unique voice and personality. The setting of the book is also expertly described, transporting the reader to the Welsh town and immersing them in its culture and traditions.

One of the strengths of the book is the way it explores the tension between tradition and progress. Llewellyn depicts the struggle of a family that is bound to their traditions, but must adapt to the changes brought about by industrialization.

The novel raises important questions about the environmental and social impact of industrialization and the importance of preserving cultural heritage. However, the book does suffer from some pacing issues.

At times, the narrative feels slow and meandering, which may make it difficult for some readers to stay engaged. Furthermore, the book’s portrayal of women is somewhat limited, as they are mostly relegated to minor roles within the story.

Overall, How Green Was My Valley is a beautifully written novel that explores important themes about family, tradition, and industrialization. It is recommended for readers who enjoy literary fiction and are interested in Welsh culture and history.

While the book has some limitations, the quality of the writing and the depth of the story make it a classic that deserves to be read and revisited. On a scale from one to five, I would give it a rating of four stars.