Green, Green My Valley Now Paperback – May 1 1985
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Top Customer Reviews
Yes, I'd still recommend it. For those like me, you have to know what happens in a man's life, and once the story begins, you need to know how it ends. And there is enough of the Welsh feel and history here to satisfy to some extent. But it may be less the Welsh idealism and love of life, and more a reflection of the dissatisfaction of the way things have turned out, almost a dour Scandinavian regret and angst.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Yes, I'd still recommend it. For those like me, you have to know what happens in a man's life, and once the story begins, you need to know how it ends. And there is enough of the Welsh feel and history here to satisfy to some extent. But it may be less the Welsh idealism and love of life, and more a reflection of the dissatisfaction of the way things have turned out, almost a dour Scandinavian regret and angst. By the end, Llewellyn seems to present Huw as an anatype to represent the history of Wales, as it moves into a modern era controlled by England, and people desire their own control, but know in the depths of their being they will never fully control their own lives. This might be very accurate, and very revealing- but it is never enjoyable to read about someone who doesn't enjoy their own life, or fine enjoyment in the lives of their countrymen.
His novels played for a mass-market audience, akin in retrospect to the epics of a Leon Uris as mid-20th century sagas, and so never earned the respect given critically to, say, Dylan Thomas, yet they remain for many a while back probably the average Anglo-American reader's introduction to a Welsh milieu. This belated end to Huw's Patagonian stint brings him back from the military corruption that strangles 1970s Argentina. Huw keeps his wealth, more or less, and in this novel appears limitlessly wealthy. I suppose the British economy was indeed at a low ebb then; he's able to buy up land and homes and fund a deserving student for three years at Heidelberg while he pays for or pays off conniving relatives from the Argentine who learn of his newly acquired bank account.
The novel, when I read it way back, had not stuck in my memory. Now I know why. It's surprisingly dull. Llewellyn's strongest gift was his narrative voice-- it rings true here as in his earlier installments of Huw's life. But, despite the women willing to throw themselves at this aging scion, and the intricate derring-do of Breton and Irish and Welsh nationalists who all conspire to foment pan-Celtic havoc, the whole question of what will happen to a Wales so down on its luck, and a Huw who manages to parlay his luck into one investment after another, human or financial, gives this effort a detached, airless quality. You do not care as much as the author intends about Huw and his relations and acquaintances.
Without the details of how to make a cabinet or mine coal that invigorated earlier storylines, the characters remain often inert. And, there's very little payoff in any return to the valley of his childhood, or any connections with his earlier novels that matter much. While this may stand as a small marker to a post-Investiture Welsh society still threatened by dams that obliterate villages, and convulsed by idealistic rebels, the blundering mayhem blamed on the Welsh who dare to act foolishly for the self-government that others remain only dreaming about turns the novel into not so much farce as indifference. Llewellyn castigates his countrymen for blunders and doubts they could ever rule themselves, and the whole Panglossian theme of cultivating one's estate and letting the rest run down appears to have escaped the eye of what once would have been a sharper observer of Welsh complacency.