This month Paula of The Book Jotter is hosting her first ever Wales Readathon* (also known as Dewithon 19). I have started to read How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn but I’m not sure if I’ll have time to finish it and write a review before the end of March so, as I do still want to participate in some way, I thought it would be interesting to devote this month’s Historical Musings post to Welsh historical fiction.
I’m listing below some of the historical novels set in Wales that I’ve already read and written about on my blog (some are by Welsh authors and some are not), but I’d love to hear your recommendations too.
Starting with the book set in the earliest time period, Daughter of the Last King by Tracey Warr takes us back to 11th century Wales and introduces us to Nest ferch Rhys, daughter of the last king of Deheubarth. I have the sequel, The Drowned Court, on my shelf to read soon.
Then there’s Sharon Penman’s Welsh Princes Trilogy, which begins with Here Be Dragons, the story of Llewelyn ab Iorweth (known as Llewelyn the Great) and his wife Joanna, an illegitimate daughter of England’s King John. The second book in the trilogy, Falls the Shadow, is set several years later and tells the parallel stories of Simon de Montfort’s rebellion against Henry III and, in Wales, the rivalries between Llewelyn’s sons and grandsons. I still need to read the final book, The Reckoning.
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters, the first in her Cadfael mystery series, involves a journey to a Welsh village to bring back a saint’s relics to Shrewsbury Abbey.
Sleeper’s Castle by Barbara Erskine is a time slip novel set in Hay-on-Wye, close to the border between England and Wales. The historical thread of the story involves a young woman who becomes caught up in Owain Glyndŵr’s rebellion against the rule of Henry IV of England.
In First of the Tudors, Joanna Hickson looks at the Welsh origins of the Tudor dynasty, with a focus on Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, uncle of the future Henry VII.
The Child From the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge is a beautifully written novel about Lucy Walter, a mistress of King Charles II and the mother of his eldest son, the Duke of Monmouth. Lucy grows up at Roch Castle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, and her Welsh childhood is described in vivid detail.
My Beautiful Imperial by Rhiannon Lewis begins in 19th century Wales with a young boy dreaming of a life at sea before developing into a fascinating novel about the Chilean civil war.
Moving forward into the 20th century, I remember enjoying Blow on a Dead Man’s Embers by Mari Strachan (renamed simply Dead Man’s Embers since I read it a few years ago). The book is set in the 1920s and follows the story of a woman whose husband returns home to Wales after the First World War suffering from shell shock.
I found all of the books mentioned above interesting in different ways and would recommend any of them. But now it’s your turn…
Have you read any of these books? Can you think of any other good historical fiction novels set in Wales?