Review: Y Ferch ar y Ffordd

Y Ferch ar y Ffordd by Lleucu Roberts

Y Ferch ar y Ffordd

Mae Glyn a’r Difa yn paratoi i fynd i Eisteddfod Genedlaethol y Bala yn eu carafán. Pâr priod canol oed o Gaerdydd yw’r ddau, sy’n mynychu’r Steddfod ers blynyddoedd lawer, am resymau cwbl wahanol i’w gilydd. Ond wedi cwrdd â hen ffrindiau, daw atgofion o’r gorffennol i aflonyddu’r cof a chaiff cyfrinachau’r dyddiau gynt eu datgelu.

*This is a Welsh language book which I don’t believe has been translated into English. Possible spoilers ahead.

This was part of my summer reading for school, and I actually quite enjoyed the book. It was surprisingly good with a huge twist towards the end of the book. The book is about one couple (Glen and Dilys) meeting up with another couple (Heulwen and Dan) that they haven’t seen in years.

Cover

I’m not a big fan of this cover. It’s definitely relevant to the book with Eisteddfod pavilion, but there’s something I don’t like about it. On my copy, well, my schools’ copy, it all seems a bit fuzzy on the front and I’m not keen on it. However, the story itself is far better than the cover.

Plot

The plot was very strong and interesting in this book. To start with, I wasn’t all that interested in what was going on but as I read more, I started to enjoy the plot and understood what was going on. The main plot was very clear and direct, but I also liked the side plots too. The majority of the story is told from Glyn’s perspective – he often thinks back on his life and about Heulwen (for reasons that become clear in the book). Occasionally the narrative does switch to Heulwen’s point of view, which is also very interesting because it gives the reader a different take on the character’s world and how she views Dilys and Glyn, and also her life. Both Glyn and Heulwen think about how their lives have changed a lot, but they view those changes in different ways. Overall the plot was rather original – I hadn’t read anything similar – and the characters’ struggles with themselves and each other was very well written.

Characters

Glyn was the main character, and he developed throughout the book quite a bit. The reader learns a lot about his character – I mean a lot. Like, huge plot twist. I really hope that that doesn’t give it away. Anyway, he’s quite an interesting person, and his personality changes a lot depending on who he’s around – Dilys, Heulwen, Llion or Nigel & Twm.  His characterization was very good, and you learn a lot about who he really is during the book. I wasn’t as keen on the way Dilys, otherwise known as Y Difa, was portrayed. She was very much the bad guy to start with – not in a villain sense but that the reader wasn’t meant to like her because she was bossy, she wasn’t compassionate and she preferred cerdd dant to anything else. She didn’t have much depth to her compared to Glen, and I felt that the author wanted us to compare her to Heulwen and see how she wasn’t as glamorous and special. Then again, by the end of the novel, we do see that Heulwen doesn’t like the person she’s become, so I suppose Dilys’ portrayal isn’t totally bad.

Heulwen is a complete contrast to Dilys. After certain, major events in the past, she changes from what she was (a mother and a housewife) into a glamorous Welsh celebrity who has a say on most things, especially the Eisteddfod. As the book progresses we discover a lot about her character and what she’s been through, and the ending of this book almost had me in tears. If you read, you’ll understand. Dan, Heulwen’s husband, was quite a minor character compared to the others and disappeared for a long chunk of the book, and so I never really felt I got to know Dan at all – having finished the book, this may be something the author did on purpose.

Overall, the book is quite good. It brought tears to my eyes at the end, and I did like the way the last part of the book was written as letters instead of third person PoV. I’d recommend this to anyone who needs a Welsh book to read, especially if they’re fans of the Eisteddfod.

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