A Welsh Dawn
‘A Welsh Dawn’ is a new novel from publishers Y Lolfa, by author, Gareth Thomas. The story at the heart of it centres on a small group of people in Wales during the 1950s and early1960s, and takes an interesting look at the issues faced by the Welsh people as a whole, during a time of huge change. Where matters such as these are examined in a fictional context it takes a delicate balancing act on the part of the author to avoid polemic and educational instruction whilst making clear the severity of the effects of change on those living through ‘interesting times’. This careful handling is accomplished with a deft confidence by Gareth Thomas, which is not surprising since he lived through the period himself, and having been born in 1948, and educated in both England and Wales, experienced first-hand the Welsh community struggling to maintain its clear identity, through both its language and its culture, from the perspective of belonging and also from an objective viewpoint. Gareth Thomas was born in the Rhondda to Welsh parents and was educated in a number of places in both Wales and England. He studied drama and became a teacher, also working as an actor and director. It is possible that this is where his skill in creating empathetic characters emerged and it is this that makes the book so successful. From the two young boys Gwilym and William, at the start to the others as they appear, Glan and Dafydd, Margaret and Ifan, his characters are real which means the issues with which they are faced are real too. The influences seen to be destroying the old way of life and the everyday use of Welsh in Wales were numerous; an influx of non-Welsh speakers from outside Wales, political uncertainties, internal movement within Wales for employment prospects, and additionally the growth of the English speaking media and commerce. There were political decisions made in Westminster, which despite genuinely committed and organised disputation by local people, villagers and supporters, as with Capel Celyn, the village drowned to create a reservoir for Liverpool, simply went ahead regardless. The reality of Wales being ruled from Westminster without regard for the culture and the people who lived there, caused an outrage which was felt throughout the cities and the country villages and by using fiction to express the happenings of the period Gareth Thomas has succeeded in reaching out to the reader by using empathetic characters to tell the story.
A Welsh Dawn by Gareth Thomas is published by Y Lolfa and is available from bookshops and www.ylolfa.com