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Y Briodas – The Wedding – is very significant to me. I learned to speak Welsh at school and this was the first Welsh-language novel I read. It wasn’t an easy task and it took me some time! But it was an accomplishment.
It is also set in my home, the Rhondda Valley. I know the streets, the mountains, the chapels, and the public houses it describes. The author, Rhydwen Williams, was from the Rhondda and was also a famous poet.
Y Briodas is the first of a trilogy, Cwm Hiraeth (the “valley of longing”). It follows a family through three generations in a coal mining area in the early twentieth century, in which religion and politics are dominant. It is about love and relationships, but is not a romantic novel in the traditional sense.
Many men moved from rural Wales to work in the coal mines, often followed by their families once they were settled. Many also came from England, Scotland and further afield to work in the coal industry and the industries that serviced it. There is still a large Italian community in the Rhondda running cafes and restaurants.
The Welsh in this book is the dialect my great grandparents spoke, which is seldom heard these days. As is the case with so many minority languages, Rhondda parents were told that if they wanted their children to have a good education and career they should not speak to them in Welsh but in English. As a result, generations of people were robbed of their family language. But it is preserved within the pages of this lovely book.
Jill Evans, Member of the European Parliament