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The Heyday in the Blood

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The village of Tanygraig on the Welsh-English border is the backdrop of this passionate novel of love and its consequences. Beti, the beautiful and willful daughter of a pub landlord, is pursued by two men: Llew, her aggressive, red-haired cousin, and Evan, the dreamy miller and would-be poet. She must make a choice, but it is not just her future that depends on her decisi The village of Tanygraig on the Welsh-English border is the backdrop of this passionate novel of love and its consequences. Beti, the beautiful and willful daughter of a pub landlord, is pursued by two men: Llew, her aggressive, red-haired cousin, and Evan, the dreamy miller and would-be poet. She must make a choice, but it is not just her future that depends on her decision; for she and Tanygraig are positioned precariously on borders of class, nation, language, and changing times.


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The village of Tanygraig on the Welsh-English border is the backdrop of this passionate novel of love and its consequences. Beti, the beautiful and willful daughter of a pub landlord, is pursued by two men: Llew, her aggressive, red-haired cousin, and Evan, the dreamy miller and would-be poet. She must make a choice, but it is not just her future that depends on her decisi The village of Tanygraig on the Welsh-English border is the backdrop of this passionate novel of love and its consequences. Beti, the beautiful and willful daughter of a pub landlord, is pursued by two men: Llew, her aggressive, red-haired cousin, and Evan, the dreamy miller and would-be poet. She must make a choice, but it is not just her future that depends on her decision; for she and Tanygraig are positioned precariously on borders of class, nation, language, and changing times.

31 review for The Heyday in the Blood

  1. 5 out of 5

    J A

    The Heyday in the Blood is a novel that certainly makes you work hard; it is one of the most difficult texts I have read for some time. Particularly, the dialogue is obtuse almost constantly. I shall explain why. Firstly, although this is Welsh writing in English, Welsh words and phrases frequently crop up; I've yet to go through and translate them all myself. Secondly, events are referred to obliquely, and the narrative doesn't interject in the middle of dialogue to make up for the shortfall -- The Heyday in the Blood is a novel that certainly makes you work hard; it is one of the most difficult texts I have read for some time. Particularly, the dialogue is obtuse almost constantly. I shall explain why. Firstly, although this is Welsh writing in English, Welsh words and phrases frequently crop up; I've yet to go through and translate them all myself. Secondly, events are referred to obliquely, and the narrative doesn't interject in the middle of dialogue to make up for the shortfall -- if you don't guess what they're speaking about then you will be lost. Thirdly, and partly explaining the previous two, is the fact that the dialogue is never contrived, but extremely colloquial and free-flowing. To give only one of many examples: 'This auld house inna bigger than a decent 'utch,' he said. 'There inna much o' me auld yead left. There now - ' 'This anna this in Lunnon, I warrant.' 'It's tee-tee, Ned? You know I'm a Rechabite.' 'A reckobite! Be God and thee't not the first that's smelt the wrong end o' a cork! This wonna hurt: dandelion bloom. Five year auld.' (p.176) Its stylistic difficulty is matched by the uneasy resolutions common to its genre: the sort of rural, tragic drama (in the vein of Thomas Hardy, to whom Goodwin was compared in his lifetime). The village of Tanygraig, and its environs, are populated by people who fail to know either each other or themselves; by people who are held fast in the paralysis of their current circumstances, but highly anxious about leaving them behind. Probably its most powerful theme is that of change, wrought on both the natural world, and on people who are so bound up in that world. And that change is inevitable, to say nothing of whether it offers the hope of redemption or the destruction of tradition. Putting aside, or perhaps embracing, its difficulties, the text offers a finely wrought social portrait of Welsh border life in the 1920s. It is a piece shot through with characters that are wholly believable, whose lives remain mysterious to the very end (as is true to life), but about whom you are eager to know more. There are scenes of fabulous ribaldry and comedy, as well as those more bleak moments. It was a place in which I was fully invested in by the end, and whose characters I was loathe to leave behind. EDIT: Finished for a second time on Mar 19 2014. I believe it's Sam Adams, Goodwin's biographer, who noted Heyday to be an immensely elliptical book, by which he meant that the reader always has to work out the missing elements of situations and relationships. It's an astute observation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    Dated, gushy, and occasionally excruciating. The problematic and arguably anti-Semitic characterisation of Mr. Birbaum and his ‘jentlemens’ leaves an unpleasant taste, as does the woefully caricatured Welsh dialect, which renders those speaking it as a bit dim and dozy. There’s an art to writing dialect, and Goodwin doesn’t have it. There are plenty of interesting passages about Welsh identity, but they’re not really particularly well-observed or illuminating. It’s all pretty surface-level stuff Dated, gushy, and occasionally excruciating. The problematic and arguably anti-Semitic characterisation of Mr. Birbaum and his ‘jentlemens’ leaves an unpleasant taste, as does the woefully caricatured Welsh dialect, which renders those speaking it as a bit dim and dozy. There’s an art to writing dialect, and Goodwin doesn’t have it. There are plenty of interesting passages about Welsh identity, but they’re not really particularly well-observed or illuminating. It’s all pretty surface-level stuff.

  3. 5 out of 5

    benxander

    An engaging tragedy about encroaching anglicisation on the Welsh borders that's powdered with a comedic tone throughout. Set in the late 1930s, characters speak in a Welsh English border dialect (though many also use Welsh/Cymraeg, especially the elders); with their language now hybridised with English, it is their sense of Welsh identity and land-ownership that's under threat from English absorption east of the border. The younger generation of characters -- Beti, Evan and Llew -- have complex An engaging tragedy about encroaching anglicisation on the Welsh borders that's powdered with a comedic tone throughout. Set in the late 1930s, characters speak in a Welsh English border dialect (though many also use Welsh/Cymraeg, especially the elders); with their language now hybridised with English, it is their sense of Welsh identity and land-ownership that's under threat from English absorption east of the border. The younger generation of characters -- Beti, Evan and Llew -- have complex emotive motivations: each balancing their homeland loyalties with the prospect of economic betterment in London in their own ways. And the older generation, cynical as they are, provide great amusement and hindsight about the changing nature of Wales since the start of the century. It's ridiculous that The Heyday in the Blood isn't more widely read both here in Wales and further afield. Hopefully this new edition by the Library of Wales series will change this in years to come.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Billy Jones

    Interesting for the import it possesses in discussions of Welsh identity. However, Goodwin's use of a taxonomy of racial types is a distant echo of the pseudoscience propagated by 19th century racial anthropologists. The caricatured dialect is also somewhat tedious. Mr. Birbaum's dialogue can be characterised as exaggeratedly German and teeters on the brink of pantomime almost. The borderline anti-Semitic imagery and dialogue that pertains to Birbaum, while initially disconcerting, is somewhat a Interesting for the import it possesses in discussions of Welsh identity. However, Goodwin's use of a taxonomy of racial types is a distant echo of the pseudoscience propagated by 19th century racial anthropologists. The caricatured dialect is also somewhat tedious. Mr. Birbaum's dialogue can be characterised as exaggeratedly German and teeters on the brink of pantomime almost. The borderline anti-Semitic imagery and dialogue that pertains to Birbaum, while initially disconcerting, is somewhat ameliorated by the fact that all the characters are actors in the pantomime that is 'The Heyday in the Blood'. Ultimately, the novel is a lamentation of assimilation, multiculturalism and the subsequent impact this has on Welsh identity. The representation of Welsh-language culture as diasporic speaks to this. There is also an anti-capitalist thread in the novel that repudiates the commodification of Wales as a mere holiday location for the 'jentlemen'. Overall, mixed feelings.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karyn

    The title is taken from a line in Hamlet, where it refers to youthful passion and romantic love. This may be what Geraint Goodwin is intending to convey here, for his young protagonist Beti must give up everything she cherishes if she is to follow her heart. And yet the strongest passions described in this book seem to be not for others, but for a way of life, and for a culture, and for the countryside of the border region in the northern part of Wales. Geraint Goodwin tells the story of its rur The title is taken from a line in Hamlet, where it refers to youthful passion and romantic love. This may be what Geraint Goodwin is intending to convey here, for his young protagonist Beti must give up everything she cherishes if she is to follow her heart. And yet the strongest passions described in this book seem to be not for others, but for a way of life, and for a culture, and for the countryside of the border region in the northern part of Wales. Geraint Goodwin tells the story of its rural inhabitants at the moment in time when their traditional way of life is becoming unsustainable. Continued

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ray Noyes

    For readers unused to a person speaking English with the strong north Wales accent, this book may cause some initial frustration; but the story is worth the effort. I found the overall theme touching and so very true. The Welsh border with England has seen not only the erosion but also the disappearance of the traditional way of Welsh life, including its language. With it has gone not only traditional ways of living off the land but the wholesale migration of the young. Well worth persevering in For readers unused to a person speaking English with the strong north Wales accent, this book may cause some initial frustration; but the story is worth the effort. I found the overall theme touching and so very true. The Welsh border with England has seen not only the erosion but also the disappearance of the traditional way of Welsh life, including its language. With it has gone not only traditional ways of living off the land but the wholesale migration of the young. Well worth persevering in order to be touched by the sadness of this great loss.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Foxy

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tarnia Russell

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

  13. 4 out of 5

    Larissa Schmidt

  14. 5 out of 5

    S

  15. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

  17. 4 out of 5

    Parthian Books

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mingying Zhou

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Kaminsky

  22. 4 out of 5

    K

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tom Emlyn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Molli Allen

  25. 5 out of 5

    Seymour

  26. 4 out of 5

    Linda Shepherd

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alana Rodriguez

  28. 4 out of 5

    Will

  29. 4 out of 5

    My Reading Days

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gracie

  31. 5 out of 5

    Beverly Bruck

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