Skip to main content

Review: Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet I: Sunrise in the West, by Edith Pargeter

Pages: 186

Original date of publication: 1974

My edition: 2010 (Sourcebooks)

Why I decided to read: it had been recommended to me a long time ago

How I acquired my copy: review copy from the publisher

I’m reading The Brothers of Gwynedd for a sort of book club that the publicist at Sourcebooks is sponsoring—we’re reading one book from the quartet for four months, writing a review, and then discussing the book at various book bloggers’ blogs. I’m very glad that things have been spread out this way, otherwise, I think I’d get burned out over this book very quickly—I’ve only completed the first 200 pages or so, but already I feel as though I’m running a marathon with it!

Sunrise in the West is the first book in the quartet. From what I’ve read so far, it promises to be slow going—the book opens with not a lot of action, just a number of details on the narrator’s (Samson) background, as well as that of the house of Gwynedd. This part of the book takes places from roughly the 1220s up through the ‘60s, when Gwynedd was conquered by the English. There are a lot of descriptive passages in this book, and a lot of historical details; but Pargeter’s prose style is very, very dense and slow going at times—I’d find myself reading a few pages, putting the book down, and picking it up again after I’d gone to read something else. It definitely didn’t grab my attention enough that I wanted to keep on reading.

One of my problems is with the narrator, who’s not actually present while a lot of this novel takes place, so there’s a lot of “he told me this…” and “I heard that…” However, I’m finding the place names fascinating—I live in an area in Pennsylvania where a lot of Welsh people settled, and the place names around here are indicative of that (the township I live in was named after Radnorshire in Wales). I’m really hoping the book gets better than this; but as I’ve been warned, this book so far is sort of like watching paint dry.


MarthaE said…
Hi Katherine- Isn't it great how we can all see/read differently. I loved the journaling style and story by Samson!

Popular posts from this blog

Review: The Tudor Secret, by CW Gortner

Pages: 327Original date of publication:My edition: 2011 (St. Martin’s)Why I decided to read: Heard about this through Amazon.comHow I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine, December 2010Originally published as The Secret Lion, The Tudor Secret is the first in what will be a series featuring Brendan Prescott, an orphan foundling who was raised in the household of the Dudley family. In 1553, King Edward is on his deathbed, and William Cecil gives a secret mission Brendan. Soon he finds himself working as a double agent, as he attempts to discover the secret of his own birth.There ‘s a lot to like in this novel, mainly in the historical details that the author weaves into the story. He knows Tudor history like the back of his hand, and it definitely shows in this book. Because it was his first novel, however, there are some rough patches. There were a couple of plot holes that I had trouble navigating around—primarily, why would a secretive man such as Cecil entrust a seemingly nobody with this …

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy:, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…