REVIEW by Steven Lovatt

NWR Issue 100

A Welsh Witch, A Romance of Rough Places

by Allen Raine

A Welsh Witch is a novel by Allen Raine (Anne Adeliza Puddicombe), originally published in 1902, that charts the progress from adolescence to maturity of four young people from a Cardiganshire fishing village. A mixture of social prejudice and misplaced pride causes three of the friends to enter into romantic misalliances with one another. They are finally able to extricate themselves from these with the help of new powers of self-understanding gained during trials undergone in the alien environment of semi-industrialised Glamorganshire. The fourth lover, Catrin Rees, is the ‘witch’ of the title, whose ferity and seemingly uncanny intimacy with the natural world is shown to be largely the result of her ostracism by the superstitious and purblind villagers. Catrin’s gradual assimilation into her society owes greatly to the efforts of Goronwy Hughes, through whose feelings for her – developing from curiosity through admiration to love – Allen Raine’s own humane and socially enlightened views are made apparent. The virtues of loyalty and self-knowledge are affirmed, too, in the handling of the other romance, that between Ishbel Lloyd and Walto Gwyn. These characters are of a socially higher standing than their friends, but by the end of the book, having experienced the worldly pleasures but also the pretentiousness of the nouveau riche lifestyle, they find contentment by disavowing their supposed superiority and returning to their native village...

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previous review: The Village
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