Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Moving Portrait of Family Strength and Integrity Amongst the Green Hills of Wales

Bookenders Book Group will meet on Wednesday, November 30 at 7 p.m. downstairs in the library. The featured book for the evening is How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. The discussion will be led by Etta McQuade.

How Green Was My Valley is Richard Llewellyn's bestselling -- and timeless -- classic and the basis of a beloved film.

The novel is set in South Wales during the reign of Queen Victoria. It tells the story of the Morgans, a poor but respectable mining family of the South Wales Valleys, through the eyes of the youngest son, Huw Morgan.
Huw's academic ability sets him apart from his elder brothers and enables him to consider a future away from this troubled industrial environment. His five brothers and his father are miners.

Drawn simply and lovingly, with a crisp Welsh humor, Llewellyn's characters fight, love, laugh and cry, creating an indelible portrait of a people. The simplicity of the language and its delicately strange flavor give the book added charm.

"A story of exquisite distinction and vibrant interest; clear and strong as the music under the sky." -- The New York Times Book Review

Richard Llewellyn (real name Richard David Vivian Llewellyn Lloyd) was a Welsh novelist.

Llewellyn was born of Welsh parents in Hendon, north London in 1906.
In a writing career spanning 43 years, Llewellyn wrote twenty-four novels. Several of them dealt with a Welsh theme, the best-known being How Green Was My Valley (1939) which won international acclaim. His writing career focused on the village communities of Wales, particularly the mining community. It immortalized the way of life in the South Wales valley coal mining communities, where Llewellyn spent a small amount of time with his grandfather. Three sequels followed.

He loved to travel and did it often. Before World War II, he spent periods working in hotels, wrote a play, worked as a coal miner and produced his best known novel. During World War II, he rose to the rank of Captain in the Welsh Guards. Following the war, he worked as a journalist, covering the Nuremberg Trials, and then as a screenwriter for MGM. Late in his life, he lived in Eilat, Israel.
Llewellyn was married twice. The first marriage to Nona Sonstenby, after sixteen years, ended in divorce. He married his second wife, Susan Heimann, in 1974 and this marriage lasted until his death. He died on November 30, 1983.

"How Green Was My Valley", John Ford's beautiful, heartfelt drama about a close-knit family of Welsh coal miners, based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn, can be found at the library. It is one of the greatest films of Hollywood's golden age--a gentle masterpiece that won Best Picture at the 1941 Academy Awards.

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