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One Moonlit Night: Novel

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  262 ratings  ·  51 reviews
In a small Welsh village during the dark days of World War I, a nameless narrator chronicles a year of loss, grief, and madness in Caradog Prichard's One Moonlit Night. Originally published in 1961, this Welsh-language novel has been eloquently translated into English by Philip Mitchell, perhaps garnering Prichard the wide recognition his novels have long enjoyed in his ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 17th 1997 by New Directions (first published 1961)
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Philip Mitchell The poetry comprising Chapter 8 (in the middle of the book, as you say) is original to the novel. A recurring theme in Prichard's work concerns…moreThe poetry comprising Chapter 8 (in the middle of the book, as you say) is original to the novel. A recurring theme in Prichard's work concerns mysterious female spirits, often dwelling in large deep bodies of water. The Queen of the Black Lake and The Queen of Snowdon in One Moonlit Night might or might not be the same entity. I'd love to ask him about that and so much more.(less)

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Diane Barnes
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book really defies description. Reading the plot outline is just a beginning, but you have to be willing to inhabit the mind and body of a 10 year old boy to really get a sense of the brilliance of this author. The Welsh people seem to be born with poetry in their marrow. This has been compared with Dylan Thomas' Under Milkwood, but for my part, I associated it strongly with How Green Was My Valley.

The last two chapters threw this childhood tale into an entirely different realm, and I may
Philip Mitchell
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As the English translator of this book, I'm probably more than a little biased in my appraisal. That having been said, I remain firmly of the opinion that this is one of the greatest novels ever written.

For some few readers who lack all heart, all soul, all imagination and all compassion for their fellow men and women, this book will appear to be no more than some boring Welsh bloke going on and on about his boring childhood in boring Wales.

For many, many others, however, it's a mind-blowing,
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird, skeevy books like this need to be kept alive and celebrated. This feels not quite like any other book, and well, i think that's something. It does do the whole horror of the adult world seen through the eyes of an innocent child thing, which has become horribly tacky, but it did it a long time ago and with a uniquely Welsh valleys lilt; folkloric, unsettling, also endearing. It is a narrative about bearing witness - the kid sees everything, the everydayness of poverty, insanity, death, ...more
"There’s a full moon tonight. Why won’t you let Huw come out to play, O Queen of the Black Lake?"

Half-fictional memories of a long-gone childhood are commonplace enough – but not when they are so hauntingly rooted in landscape, language, and incipient madness as they are in One Moonlit Night.

It is an astonishing book. A dreamscape that inextricably melds together the pignut-hunting, hymn-singing, game-playing, bread-and-butter-eating memories of a boy in a Welsh slate-mining village in the time
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top
I got this book from this site as a freebie and I am so grateful. It is a masterpiece, to rank alongside Heart of Darkness. Its precision, lucidity, characterisation, evocation of place and time, narrative drive, and entrancing sense of mystery place it amongst the best books I have ever read. I surprised myself in my enjoyment as, as a foreigner in Wales, I sometimes feel ostracised, and avoid any heightening of that sense. This book however, embraced me as a reader, and a lover of Wales, ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20c, favorites
Dew, but this is a fine novel indeed. The poverty of the quarry villages of North Wales in the early 20th century. The looming horror of boys being sent to war. The delights of bread and butter, and picking bilberries with your friends. Madness. Suicides. The asylum. Domestic violence. The comedy of local football matches and the beauty of the South Wales choir. The gravestones. Loss. Snowdon and the stark Welsh landscape. Myth. Rural Welsh naming conventions. Religious revelation. Trauma and ...more
Amy Street
Oh dear. This book is probably wonderful but I’m just not in the mood.
Vanessa Norhausen
Probably the best book you’ve never heard of. The story and the tragedies of a Welsh town told through the eyes of a 10 year old boy trying to make sense of the world that surrounds him, and the grief and hurt that comes with growing up in the days of the Great War.
Mark McKenny
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A special book. Sometimes it's just hard to describe why one has enjoyed a book so much, but I guess it's all personal, based on the things we've experienced thus far and the impacts upon our lives. This book for me is something new, something different and highly original. The voice is so loud and so perfect. We are there, with them, living. The almost dreamlike breaks in the book lift us out and take us somewhere magical, and somewhere old Wales-like and mythical. It's the story of a ...more
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
as if someone's memory had broken from their head and cauterised on the page in indiscriminate consummation. it is in part (aside from the intimacy to madness and death) a fossil of every childhood, or at least mine too. it contains the richness of a gullible world, where sight and meaning can be altered by the flightiest of sentiments. a funny and desolate jumble of masterpiece.
John Mitchell
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the first few pages we are shocked by the innocence of a young boy's observations of death, insanity and abuse. The narrative is so matter-of-fact as we are taken on this disturbing journey through a Welsh village. Caradog Pritchard deftly allows the reader to see through the child's eyes in a poem to poverty, madness and death. It is a work of utter genius.
Robert  Burdock
Apr 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Memorable! Touching! Endearing! One Moonlit Night is one of those rare books that once read will always remembered!
Susan Schubert
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
this is a favorite of mine written by a man in whose house i lived in with he and his family in 1971. To read this story of his youth was spellbinding, such an interesting person and family , as well. It was my good luck to get this book of which i bought several to pass on to friends to read. I wrote my own book, "The Way I Remember it, Memoir of a Trip to Europe 1971" from reading his book.
It is such a real glimpse into the lives of a poor working class mining town in the early 1900's. The
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm always suspicious of exclamations like 'The greatest Welsh novel'. In this case though I wasn't disappointed, although I read it in English translation I have been blown away by it! It is like a dream, sad, tragic full of death and madness and yet beautifully written and often very funny. There is nothing like it and it has made me rush back to learning Welsh to read it in the original language!
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterpiece, an extraordinary novel, but yet appears to be little known. So grateful to my Welsh friend for having recommended this book. Set in a Welsh village at the early part of the last century and narrated by an anonymous young boy, it's utterly grim yet beautiful, funny but at the same time, immensely sad. I loved the narrator's voice throughout.
Rick Jones
A short intense read, and a really nice look at growing up in rural Wales. You get a real sense of the insularity of the community, as well as the 'magical realism' of being a child, where all things are possible.
Uplifting and heartbreaking.
Suzanne Ashworth
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a powerful book - dark and powerful....and very welsh!
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this sad book, though the ending is not entirely clear.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You can find an in-depth discussion of 'One Moonlit Night' on Sherds Podcast here:
Gustavo R
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that is considered a Welsh classic. It's not a great book, but it's close to be one. The things I was expecting to find in The Life of Rebecca Jones were here.

While in Rebecca, excepting two pages or three, things described could have happened anywhere in a rural setting in the western world, One Moonlit Night is completely Welsh. Everything - geography, language, people, religion - is as Welsh as it can get. I have traveled to the region were the story is set (and Rebecca is set,
Jayne Pritchard
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those wanting to understand the history of North Wales around WW1.
Shelves: other-times, cymru
This is a 4-5 in places, but I found the end part less comprehensible and a bit unsatisfactory. Philip Mitchell has, I believe, captured the essence of the book magnificently in his English-language translation. The language is both evocative and beautiful at times, but Caradog Prichard's intention to write it as 'a radio play for voices' like Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood detracts from its impact for me, because it does not match Dylan Thomas's powerful use of language to drive meaning, but ...more
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I get dreams where some terrible things might happen, and I may be devastated or horrified in it, but I soldier on to the end of all that because in dreams, there's a certain floating quality about things, so you could see bits of a nightmare here and there, but overall, the dream felt right--normal even. I'm not sure if I'm the only one who dreams this way, but One Moonlit Night felt exactly like that.

Narrative in this English translation threw me off a little, and I had to get used
Han Adcock
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Such a strange little book. Most of it is the childhood/teenager memories of the narrator, a boy growing up in a poor Welsh village surrounded by all kinds of things a child should not have to witness, told in a disarmingly frank tone of voice. Interspersed with that are some chapters of odd, mystic-type poetry which doesn't make logical sense but seems to echo with the story's events. Now I read somewhere (was it in the Afterword?) that all of this story is a run-up to the narrator himself ...more
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Another successful ‘quick pick’ that I got from the library. This one surprised me with its haunting narrative. It is impossible not to love our sweet young narrator as he takes us through one moonlit night (and many other memories of days before and after) of his life in a Welsh quarry village. His affection for his disturbed ‘Mam’ is heart-warming, while the book takes us in wonderful rambling prose through the dark turns of adult life in the village: harsh injustices, abject poverty, and ...more
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I won this book on the Thursday, received it through the post to my jubilant delight, and had it finished by the monday night.
It's really something, a brief small scale book but full of joy, despair, innocence and confusion, narrated by an un-named person looking back at his life in a North Walian mining valley. It's narrated from the view point of a small boy in most parts, telling of his care-free adventures with Huw and Moi. The further through the book you go, the further the narrator and
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
Hmmmn, a strange book this, I think I need to read it again. I'll also be recommending it to all those Londoners I know who dream of having enough money to bugger off to the country side in pursuit of their Arcadian fantasies.

Set in a Welsh village at the turn of the twentieth century, this semi-autobiographical tale does not paint a picture of pastoral bliss. Scenes of berry picking, school boy crushes and anarchic football games, give way to suicides, violence and madness... 'One Moonlit
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
A book I got from the giveaways. I read it in bits and pieces over the holidays, which may have detracted from my enjoyment slightly, however I'll be honest and admit I didn't find the book that enthralling.

The story itself, that of young boys growing up in a mining valley, was interesting, the way it is written makes you see right into the narrator's head. Simultaneously, however, the writing style put me off; although sections of the book were poignant, as a whole it felt rather incoherent
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haunting, tragic and ineffably strange, Prichard's novel defies categorisation. Though madness, loss and death appear to be the central themes, the novel is punctuated with tender moments of empathy and kindness that make this novel at once childishly sweet yet poignant. The evocation of mythic figures like that ominous Queen of the Black Lake combined with the depiction of village life in North Wales make for a reading experience that one might best describe as magical realist.
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Poet, novelist and journalist, Caradog Prichard was a native of Bethesda, Gwynedd, Wales. He worked for newspapers in Caernarfon, Llanrwst, Cardiff and in London where he spent most of his life, working for the News Chronicle and later the Daily Telegraph.

He was 23 when he first won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod which he went on to win three years in a row.

Today he is mostly remembered for