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A Welsh Witch
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Allen Raine's novels sold in their millions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and three of them were later made into successful films. When literary fashions changed, however, they fell out of favour and out of print, and only one (Queen of the Rushes) has been re-issued. It is, therefore, a particular pleasure to welcome Honno's new edition of another, The Welsh Witch (with an informative and stimulating introduction by Jane Aaron), which was first published in 1902. The novel has two great strengths: the first is the tightly-plotted story of the lives and loves of two young women and two young men who, after many twists and turns, are finally united with the one they truly love; and the second is the depiction of life, work and communities in three very different parts of Wales - a fishing village on Cardigan Bay, a mining village in industrial Glamorganshire, and a sheep farm in the mountains of Gwynedd. It is this skilful blend of romance and social realism which gives Raine's work its particular flavour, along with an appreciation of the beauty of the Welsh countryside. The novel is crammed with colourful incidents a dramatic rescue at sea, a gypsy wedding, escape to a secret cave under a cliff, an underground explosion in a mine, and one clergyman preventing another from reading the banns of marriage on the grounds that the couple concerned do not truly love each other. It is also perceptive in its depiction of social relationships between the inhabitants of the fishing village and the 'mestress' who owns their cottages and can turn them out of their homes if they displease her, between miners and pit-managers, between the sister married to a man who's made money and the sister who remains poor, between the gypsies and the population they move among, between sheep-farmers and their shepherds. There is also great psychological realism, especially in the depiction of the way the girl regarded by everyone around her as a witch comes to feel that she deserves to be treated as a hated and despised outsider, and in the way a proud man refuses to accept that in spite of his promise to marry one woman he really loves another. Above all, however, the novel is a very good read, and Honno are to be congratulated for making it available again. Gwyneth Tyson-Roberts It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council

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