x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

The Life of Rebecca Jones: A mix of social history and poetic fiction

The Life of Rebecca Jones, Angharad Price's second novel, mixes fact with fiction, and archival black and white photography with enchanting and lyrical prose.

The Life of Rebecca Jones
Angharad Price
MacLehose Press
Dh38
The Life of Rebecca Jones Angharad Price MacLehose Press Dh38

Angharad Price's second novel is a fiendishly difficult work to categorise, mixing fact with fiction, and archival black and white photography with enchanting and lyrical prose. This is, for want of a more satisfactory interpretation, a mix of social history and poetic fiction.

Price, a senior lecturer in Welsh at Bangor University, is an endearing host, taking us through the good and bad years of the Jones family's history. Her pages travel through the hardships of subsistence farming in rural Wales as memories rush towards the reader in a near "continuous flow".

This is a world where adversity and victory is met universally with the same stoic and unblinking expression. When her brothers are sent away to school (ostensibly for a better life), Rebecca tells us they are there to learn the virtues of "hierarchy, discipline, independence ... and the chill of the dorm". When the family's farm is transformed by the arrival of a tractor she tells us "a certain innocence was lost". It is a world too, where the lush landscape broods with a quiet purpose and near poetic stillness.