How Green Was My Valley
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How Green Was My Valley

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  7,896 ratings  ·  691 reviews
Growing up in a mining community in rural South Wales, Huw Morgan is taught many harsh lessons. Looking back, where difficult days are faced with courage and the valleys swell with the sound of Welsh voices, it becomes clear that there is nowhere so green as the landscape of his own memory.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published June 28th 2001 by Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (first published 1939)
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Wesley
This will be a review that I will, no doubt, edit and add to a lot.

This is easily my most favorite and special book. It's something so beautiful that my heart aches to dwell on it. It aches because I long to be apart of something so perfect and wish for such beauty in everything I experience.

I feel I belong in that small Welsh mining town, that I should be spending all of my time supporting my family and town, singing with friends, learning voraciously, worshiping God intelligently and recogniz...more
Peggy Scripter
Richard Llewellen's writing is akin to Welsh singing. Please read it! This summer (2013) I read it for the 3rd or 4th time for a book club review, and Wow! I enjoyed it more than ever before. Lovely beyond imagination. This story is written so beautifully, in places it takes your breath away. Examples:
Page 88, "O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with...more
Meg
Aug 23, 2009 Meg rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poetry lovers
Recommended to Meg by: high school literature class
I've only re-read a handful of books in my life, and I've read this one at least 5 times. If I had to pick a favorite book of all time (sacrilege!) - it would be this one. Never have I seen prose that has this much POETRY in it. How Green is a unique, lyrical beauty.

The coming-of-age narrator, Huw, so well paints a picture of his everyday struggles in a rapidly-industrialized Wales that you can literally hear the birds and smell the blackberry pie. Of course many authors are good at description...more
Sairam Krishnan
I read this book on a cold weekend in a house built on a rock on the heights of Meghamalai, a mountain in the range we call the Western Ghats in southern India. And the whole time I was in another world. A world of simple people, simpler lives, great food, family, values and a connection to nature that has since then been completely lost.

I found myself lamenting the loss of the time Huw Morgan speaks of, cursing the slag heaps, mourning Ivor's death, and watched in horror as communism clashed wi...more
Nikki
I'm afraid I was just glad to finally be done with How Green Was My Valley. It's one of the most popular of the Welsh books I've read -- the one whose popularity has been most enduring, anyway -- and it's hard to understand why, when comparing the cloyingly nostalgic and sentimental story here to the vivacious and real work of Jack Jones and even Caradoc Evans. I guess that's it, though: it's nostalgic and sentimental and it lets the reader feel all weepy about industrialised Wales, without ange...more
AnnaMay
I loved this book. The characters were so real. I felt like I was right there in the town, in the small home, smelling the same things, eating with them, doing dishes. How did Llewellyn accomplish that?

This was the second time I read this (the first being when I was a young teenager.) I'll be reading it again throughout my life, I'm sure. I'm convinced a teenager's brain is made of fluff, for I remember very little from that first reading. It was as if I hadn't read it before, almost. This seco...more
Judy
Jan 20, 2012 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classic fiction lovers
I loved this book from the get-go. In spite of labor disputes, food shortages and a near-death experience for the hero, Huw Morgan, the upbeat tone carried through in what to me was a soothing manner.

How Green Was My Valley offers the reader to step into pre-industrialized Wales and watch the traditions, customs slip away as times change. Slip away as do the younger generation lured by London, America and a chance to make a name for themselves through pursuit of military careers. The story foll...more
Angie
I'll just go ahead and start by saying this review is a hard one for me to write. My emotions become tied up in all of the books I have loved over the years, and it matters very little what genre they are or what the writing style is or when they were written and by whom. Those books that I really love, I tend to love with wild abandon and, once given, that devotion is rarely retracted. My friend Janicu recently commented that I am "the queen of re-reading." And this is true. I love nothing bett...more
Sam
Tidy, absolutely tidy! This book is amazing and I can't believe it has taken me so long to get around to reading it. Llewellyn captures the essence of the Welsh Valleys through descriptive and beautiful prose that will melt the most hardened of readers as we follow Huw Morgan through his childhood, adolescent and young adult years where he finds his feet and learns many an important lesson. Yes Llewellyn combines events and feelings of a wider era than that covered by Morgan's story but in doing...more
Leslie
A few times in my reading life I have been so been so touched by a book that when it is over I feel a great loss and literally clasp the book to my chest like a loved-one just departed.
Some one once said, after seeing the beauty of Alaska, that he wished he had seen it as an old man, for it's magnificent beauty would surely spoil any scene he would ever see after. That's how I feel about this lovely, beautiful, wonderful book. I am afraid nothing I read will ever make me feel like this. I feel...more
Elizabeth
I'm having a hard time figuring out how to rate this book.

On the one hand I recognize that it is beautifully written. Possibly the most beautifully written prose I've ever read. But beautiful prose isn't really that exciting to me. It kept putting me to sleep and it was taking FOREVER to get through the book. Finally after almost a month when I was at around page 300 I decided to start skipping "the irrelevant stuff." My husband asked how I knew I wasn't missing anything important. I told him I'...more
Ellie Lynn
I cried, a bit, at this book's end. I felt I had truly seen the mountain sleeping, just there, curled on its side, and felt the low, cold wind whistle past. My mind fell easily into the cadence of the dialect, and sung to itself with each welsh name. I felt the valley with his words.

For me, this book's beauty read sharply, showing strength in simple naturalistic description and dialogue. Its characters, who I found deeply relatable, are rare enough, in literature and in life. I already miss the...more
Jeanette
I read this book way back in high school, and still remember the effect it had on me. Not only the enjoyment of the story, but also for what I learned from it at that tender age when I knew so little of the world in general.
David
There is lovely there is (as the characters in Llewellyn's 1939 novel might say). A paean to a bygone world, the novel looks back on a Welsh mining community in the late 19th century, where the voices of men soared to fill the valley and nothing was as sweet as the taste of a freshly baked blackberry pie or the love of family. Tight-fisted mine-owners and growing slag heaps may threaten, but the point of the book seems to be that while a place or a people live on in memory and are kept alive the...more
Etta Mcquade
"There is good it was" as the Welsh would say, to have read this captivating book. The Welsh way of talking is beautiful. I loved that, and how I loved Llewellyn's descriptions of the Welsh countryside, family life, his feelings, their religious faith, and especially of the beautiful singing--"Everywhere was singing, all over the house was singing, and outside the house was alive with singing, and the very air was song." (In Wales, many years ago, I sat in church listening to the magnificant ble...more
Ashley
I have lost count of the number of times I have read this book, but I just finished it again after putting it away for a year or two. Nearly every time I read it I think maybe I had overrated it in my memory and maybe I will be disappointed that it wasn't as good as I remembered, but every time it is better and better and I appreciate the beauty and language and exceptional characters more and more. It really is poetry. This is a book that makes you realize what life should be about.
I truly agr...more
Laura
A magnificent tale on Welsh people. It seems the sequels are not so good as the first book.
Toni
How Green Was My Valley should be read with a tear in one eye, a twinkle in the other, and both ears attuned to the rhythm of English words graced with a musical Welsh eloquence. The Morgans—all 11 of them—are revealed at their best and their worst by Huw, the youngest brother, as he remembers and recreates the scenes that changed the pastoral lives of those who lived in his small mining village in South Wales in the late 19th century.
Perhaps the thing I loved best about reading this book was L...more
Lara
After setting this one aside for a while, I finally picked it back up again and ended up spending a large chunk of Sunday finishing it. This book was published way back in 1939 and was sent to me by an old friend who thought I might like it. That friend was right. This is a coming-of-age story, but it is not just another coming-of-age story. Although the book is not particularly fast-moving and is not one that will leave you breathlessly awaiting the next chapter, it is a beautifully, lyrically,...more
Lisa Vegan
Oct 22, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who enjoys a good novel, especially those interested in the Welsh/Wales
Shelves: fiction, reviewed, novel
My mother must have acquired this book shortly after it came out in America. Her mother was born in Wales, not from a mining family, I don’t think. Anyway, read her copy when I was twelve, and I still own it. (My mother had died by then, and my grandmother died before I was born so I never met my grandmother; I think the book made me feel closer to that part of the family. I had met a couple of the (Jewish) Welsh relatives when they visited the U.S.) But I remember that I did really like the fam...more
Wendy
Jul 07, 2012 Wendy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Wendy by: goodreads recommendation
A wonderful story told in the delightful voice of Huw Morgan. I listened to this on audio and loved hearing the beautiful turns of phrase. Huw is an observant narrator and an endearing character. I would rank him up there w/ Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird and Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I will most definitely miss Huw now that I am finished with the book, but I believe there are some sequals which I plan to check out soon.
Gwen
Powerful family saga with a strong sense of place in Wales. So beautifully written that one can't help falling in love with this timeless story. It is filled with love, lyrical language, and realistic unforgettable characters.
Reading this book was a wonderful journey...
Alicia
Coming of age story and set in a rural coal mining village in Wales in the 1930s. Another reviewer described it as an elegy and that is perfect. Llewellyn's writing is so beautiful and lyric, with a pang of sadness for time and people gone by.

One of my favorite passages:

"I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me, those who were to come. I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all our fathers, and in front, to see my son, and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond.

And their e...more
Craig
One of the best books I have read and a new addition to my second top ten. Written in 1939 by Richard LLewelyn, it is a coming of age story set in a small coal mining village of South Wales in the last quarter of the 19th Century. Huw Morgan (6 years old at the beginning of the story) is the youngest son of Gwilym and Beth Morgan, parents of numerous older children, mainly sons. They are all colliers (coal miners) who manually extract coal from deep in the earth. This a nuclear family, with clo...more
Mimi
Richard Llewellyn paints a fragile and beautiful picture of Wales in How Green Was My Valley. In a wonderfully rendered coming of age story, Huw grows up in a small coal-mining town amidst shifting industries, labor unions, and politics. He watches, then follows as his numerous brothers fight for their rights and eventually leave when their opportunities are exhausted, his sisters navigate love, and his parents try to keep the family together. It is a religious book that much like Gilead, expres...more
Ashlee Draper Galyean
If I had had a pen behind my ear, ready and willing to write and scribble, underline and circle and star, I still would not have found the time to mark all of the remarkable passages in this book. There were too many and I was too keen to read on. But I will have to read it again because Llewellyn says too many perfect things in so many beautiful ways to leave them forgotten in the book. I feel an ardent desire to keep his prose ever-ready in my mind to pull up and remember at a moment's notice....more
Amberly
My new favorite! I enjoyed reading this book so much - I did not want it to end. The story was engaging but the writing was exceptional. I found myself marking passage after passage. I was originally drawn to the book because I am part Welsh and my Scottish ancestors were coal miners. I thought I might gain some insight into both sides of my family and I did.

One of my favorite passages:

"Ivor raised his finger, and from top of the Hill down to bottom men and women hummed softly to have the proper...more
Mehrsa
Ok, so it's probably more like 3 1/2 stars. I felt bad only giving it 3. This book is beautiful. It was written in 1939 and is written in English, but a Welsh English. It's a story of a large family that lives in a coal-mining town and tells the story of all their lives, but with a tragic touch of inevitable loss. You know from the beginning that the town is (figuratively and literally) going to be covered in the slag from the coal mines in now time (how's that for an environmental message--half...more
Dyon Zaratian
This is a book that is so heavy in lyrical composition (in the Welsh sing-songy manner) that it reads like a poem from start to finish. With an emphasis on the beautiful and humble details of the proleterian class, Llewellyn supremely captures the sentiment of the Welsh culture. Llewellyn has masterfully crafted a story that chronicles all the splendors, hardships and vicissitudes of a working family's life. And in this current age of stark globalization this book would serve to remind us that t...more
Amber
How Green Was My Valley is a refreshing breeze amidst the usual inversion you feel with so many books these days. I wish people wrote these days the way Richard Llewellyn wrote this. You feel like you're peering into the window of a loving family sitting by the hearth when you read this book. You fall in love with its characters, laughing when they laugh, crying when they cry, loving when they love. You feel Huw's anger, his triumphs and his heartbreak at watching his beloved village in Wales ev...more
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Richard Llewellyn (real name Richard Dafydd Vivian Llewellyn Lloyd) was a British novelist.

Llewellyn was born of Welsh parents in Hendon, north London in 1906. Only after his death was it discovered that his claim that he was born in St. Davids, West Wales was false, though of course he was of Welsh blood.

Several of his novels were dealt with a Welsh theme, the best-known being How Green Was My Va...more
More about Richard Llewellyn...
Up Into The Singing Mountain Green, Green My Valley Now Down Where The Moon Is Small None But The Lonely Heart White Horse to Banbury Cross

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“O, there is lovely to feel a book, a good book, firm in the hand, for its fatness holds rich promise, and you are hot inside to think of good hours to come.” 1045 likes
“I saw my father as a man, and not, as a man who was my father.” 24 likes
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