REVIEW by Angharad Penrhyn Jones

NWR Issue 105


by Lloyd Jones (trans Lloyd Jones)

Lloyd Jones’ third novel, originally published in Welsh, examines the catastrophic impacts of climate change on the physical environment and the traditional way of life in rural Wales. Known best for his epic, fantastical travelogue-style novels, Jones has now ventured into darker territory, one which is often ignored by literary writers. This is also his first attempt at a conventionally plotted novel. It’s a courageous move.

Water portrays life on an upland farm in north Wales at an unspecified time in the future. The family members have left the lawless and dangerous cities of Britain and returned to their original home. Conditions are harsh: the seasons are unpredictable and food is scarce. With water moving into the basin of the valley, the family becomes increasingly isolated and no longer has access to medicine or electricity. The old man of the house, Wil, obsessively tends to his chickens while he loses both his physical strength and his grip on the world. His daughter Elin has taken to her bed, where she reads fashion magazines: she, too, is retreating into fantasy. His grandchildren lack basic subsistence skills: Huw has to be taught how to catch a fish and Mary struggles to bake a cake. It’s a bleak scenario indeed, and a sense of claustrophobia pervades the novel. But the arrival of a Polish man with impressive survival skills brings some hope of change...

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previous review: My Family and Other Superheroes
next review: Winter Moorings


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