Si Hei Lwli by Angharad Tomos
Cyfrol medal ryddiaith Bro Delyn a dderbyniodd ganmoliaeth frwd y beirniaid, yn sôn am ddwy ferch yn cyd-deithio mewn car er bod pellter oes yn eu gwahanu.
*This is a Welsh language book which I don’t believe has been translated into English. Also, spoilers ahead.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book all that much. I chose it as part of my summer reading for school and, having read some other Welsh books, I didn’t expect great things. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Si Hei Lwli focused mainly on the relationship of an elderly woman and her great-niece, and the differences between them and their lives, as they go on a journey together in a car.
Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on with this cover. It’s all bit crazy. It’s possibly meant to show Eleni and Bigw’s journey (I’m going to assume it’s them on the cover) and maybe it depicts one of the weirdest scenes in the book? I’m really not sure. Definitely not a favourite cover of mine.
I’m not sure there was that much of a plot as there were revelations about Eleni and Bigw’s lives. The plot was very character-driven and focused on what those two were thinking about in the car and the things that had happened to them – past and present. It is told from two different PoV’s – Eleni’s first person PoV and Bigw’s third person PoV. To begin with I wasn’t very keen on this style because I had no idea what was going in the book, who was talking or who the characters even were. But, as the book continued, I got into the style of the book and began to enjoy it.
Essentially, there are two different stories in the book – Eleni’s story and Bigw’s. The reader learns about the lives of both characters and it’s often emphasized how different their lives were when Bigw was Eleni’s age. As the story goes on, we learn how their lives interweave and how and why they’re traveling in a car together. There are actually some heart breaking moments in this book from Bigw’s point of view as she talks about the war (her brother went to fight but was killed) and how those she loved all passed away, even a dog at the nursing home where she lives. However, some scenes in the book are odd or downright strange, but I suppose that is the nature of a Welsh book.
Eleni and Bigw are the only two characters we get to know in this book. Eleni’s personality comes across clearly in her first person sections of the book, and the reader soon discovers how caring she is when it comes to her family. Angharad Tomos also succeeds in making Eleni a believable character. She feels the same way as many young people about aspects of her life, she behaves in a similar manner – getting frustrated, yet feeling guilty about it sometimes – and is also a very open person.
Bigw’s character is also portrayed very well, and there are clear differences between her and Eleni, yet she is still very believable and is just how you might imagine a woman in her nineties who isn’t able to do much. Her personality also becomes clear in as the reader learns about her past and how there are some similarities to Eleni and her life now.
The Little Things
Technically, the majority of the book is set in Eleni’s car and we get many a scene relating to this – cleaning the windows, smoke coming out of the engine. However the book actually ends up taking place in many a location as the two main characters remember parts of their lives. I really enjoyed seeing their pasts come to life as they thought back to various occasions that were important to them.
As I mentioned earlier, there were some odd scenes in the book that didn’t seem to fit in. They were rather unneeded and nothing all that important happened in them. Also, the conclusion of the book was rather unclear and I found myself having to reread parts to make sure that I’d understood what had happened.
Overall, I did enjoy this book far more than I expected to and I would recommend it to anyone who fancies reading a Welsh book, whether for enjoyment or for school.