|28th Apr 2012, 17:50||#1|
has the freedom of Palimp City
Join Date: 14 Aug 2003
Owen Sheers: White Ravens
Seren Books have commissioned a series of stories based on The Mabinogion, a medieval collection of tales from Celtic mythology, and when I saw that one of them was by Owen Sheers, whose novel Resistance I very much enjoyed a few years ago, I picked it up. It's based on the story Branwen, Daughter of Llyr.
It begins with farmer's daughter Rhian recalling economic hardship following the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001. She has ended up in London, in circumstances which are unclear at first. As she sits on a bench by the Tower of London, wondering what her future holds, an elderly man speaks to her sympathetically, and tells her a tale of the Second World War, when a young man invalided out of the Army is sent on a mission to collect six raven chicks from an isolated farm in Wales. When he arrives, the chicks have only just hatched, and so he is forced to stay for a number of weeks until they are old enough to leave the nest. Long enough for relationships to develop and events to be set on a life-changing course.
It's really a novella, less than two hundred pages, but the intertwining of tales from two generations make it feel like a substantial and rewarding read. I confess to being a little bit in love with Sheers' prose style, to which I think he lends his poetic capabilities, but in very readable fashion.
Anyway, from me for White Ravens.
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