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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!

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