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How Green Was My Valley

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  14,038 ratings  ·  1,303 reviews
A poignant coming-of-age novel set in a Welsh mining town, Richard Llewellyn's How Green Was My Valley is a paean to a more innocent age, published in Penguin Modern Classics

Growing up in a mining community in rural South Wales, Huw Morgan is taught many harsh lessons - at the kitchen table, at Chapel and around the pit-head. Looking back on the hardships of his early
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Paperback, 448 pages
Published June 28th 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1939)
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Jim Wallis Despite the fact that throughout the story the narrator is harking back to days when life was better, from a modern point of view his life is very…moreDespite the fact that throughout the story the narrator is harking back to days when life was better, from a modern point of view his life is very restricted. Restricted by morals, tradition, religion, family values. To me he didn't have the freedom to be different. Although at the same time I can see how it would be these same restrictions that kept the community together - and happy in their ignorance.(less)

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Average rating 4.17  · 
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Wesley
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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Helene Jeppesen
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 stars.
This is a wonderful and very clever piece of fiction about how we tend to remember things from our past fondly while forgetting about how bad things really were. "How Green Was My Valley" is a book about nostalgia and it is told from the point of view of Huw, who is now an elder, but who reflects back on his life and his childhood in the valleys of Wales.
This novel was wonderfully written with beautiful passages on life as well as note-worthy anecdotes on Huw's childhood and
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Meg
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Hana
This is a very hard book to rate. I'm going with three and a half stars with caveats for some readers. Parts of it were five star brilliant. The rhythm and pattern of Welsh speech, conversation and story telling is rendered into English with a deft and often humorous touch. The descriptions of Wales and the countryside were exquisite and the sense of place and time so intense and immediate that I was often completely transported. The best parts are in the first half of the book as a man looks ...more
Peggy Scripter
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Richard Llewellen's writing is akin to Welsh singing, so beautiful it takes your breath away. In the beginning it seems like it will bog down in talk of forming a union, but read on. Although important to carry the story, it never does get tedious with that! This story is written so beautifully it has a lilt and cadence that will lift you up. 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
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Manybooks
Although as an older and more critical reader I do somewhat understand those reviewers who have found Richard Llewellyn's How Green Was My Valley perhaps not quite nitty gritty and harshly descriptive enough with regard to showing and presenting what life used to be like in the mining towns of Wales, personally, I still have to admit that rereading How Green Was My Valley for the first time since I totally devoured this novel when we read it for school in 1982 has been in every way as much of a ...more
Jessica
My sister gave me her copy of this book in a big sack of books and snacks and magazines the morning my husband and I set out to drive across the country, moving to Delaware from Utah. I started out reading it silently to myself, but after a chapter or so I had to start reading it aloud to my husband. The writing was so gorgeous, so tender and deeply felt, that I couldn't not share it. Even now, almost seventeen years later, I can remember entire passages word for word. I'm pretty sure I could ...more
Loretta
An enjoyable story with lovely characters! I didn't want it to end!

A big thank you to my Goodread friends, Marilyn and Tracey, for the push to read such a delightful, warm hearted book!
Dorcas
3.5 Stars

So is this a good book?
Yes.

Did I feel the magic of it?
Sadly, No.

Why not?
I wish I knew.

Sometimes, a book pulls you and holds you and it becomes your special possession forever more. Many people have that kind of experience with How Green Was My Valley. I truly thought I would as well. But it didn't happen for me.

It was worth reading but....what can I say?
There is something missing, there is. My heart never became involved.
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booklady
The title, How Green Was My Valley is a giveaway. We know the beautiful green valley is going to change and probably not for the better. This isn't going to be a happy story—or anyway, not one with a happy ending. Or so were my thoughts going into this book. Somehow I missed the 1941 movie* of the same name—and it had Maureen O'Hara no less, one of my all-time favorite actresses. Although Richard Llewellyn's book was first published in 1939 and sounded really familiar I don't remember ever ...more
Leslie
Lovely writing in this story of a Welsh family in a coal-mining village (I think in the Rhondda valley area altough the author didn't specify) from about 1890 to 1910.

While ostensibly about the Morgan family, this novel is documenting the end of an era. I had seen the film but years ago and I was struck when reading this by the similarities to the more recent film "Brassed Off" about the colliery closings in northern England (Yorkshire?) during Margaret Thatcher's time. Different times and
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Ferdy
3.5 stars - Spoilers

A rather lovely and quaint coming of age story. It did take a while to get into and was quite slow and boring towards the end, but other than that it was a great read.

-How Green Was My Valley seemed like less of a story and more like a pleasant stroll through the early years of someone's life. More specifically Huw Morgan's life, with him reminiscing about his childhood and the valley that was his home. There was no real solid plot, just Huw looking back at his family, and
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Leslie
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Nikki
Mar 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Elizabeth
Jul 10, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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Lisa Vegan
Oct 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who enjoys a good novel, especially those interested in the Welsh/Wales
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 ...more
Myriam
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? This novel was right up my alley.
It revolves around a family and their lives in all their complexity and their amazing simplicity, set in a Welsh coal mining village (which was a unusual setting for me). It was wonderfully written, at once intimate, profound and simple. I loved that it detailed a way of life, harsh, but simple in a way, that is now lost for the most part.
The story is narrated by Huw Morgan, and he has a unique, candid, wise and totally human voice. The parents
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Cher
3 stars - It was good.

What a difficult book to rate! I found this book to be very atmospheric with beautiful passages of quote-worthy prose and really enjoyed the Welsh dialect. BUT, it just felt so incredibly slow for most of the book, and I found the self righteousness of the characters (and of the time) to grow stale and repetitive.

It seemed odd that the book began with the main character leaving the valley, yet as the story of his childhood and coming of age unfolds, you never get to the
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Ann-Marie
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Arguably the finest book I have ever read.Llewellyn's novel of a young boy growing up in Welsh coal mining country at the turn of the 20th Century is so realistic it was believed for years to be autobiographical, a myth Llewellyn himself did not discourage.
The prose is so lyrical I found myself reading it aloud to my dogs, who are used to my declamations, often in dialect. Fortunately, I do not do Welsh, so they only had to hear me speak Educated North American.
If you have not read this
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Angie
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
AnnaMay
Nov 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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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
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Noelia Alonso
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(9.5/10)

FULL REVIEW:https://www.instagram.com/p/B2yp3wQA-Ir/
I am heartbroken. What a beautiful story. How Lllewellyn manages to write about these men and their Valley in such tenderness but at the same time showing how crude and difficult their lives were amazes me.
Poiema
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: musical-theme, top-12
Oh, the joy of reading this book! It was wise and poignant and marinated in song:

"Singing was in my father as sight is in the eye."

"Sing, then. Sing, indeed, with shoulders back, and head up so that song might go to the roof and beyond to the sky. Mass on mass of tone, with a hard edge, and rich with quality, every single note a carpet of colour woven from basso profundo, and basso, and baritone, and alto, and tenor, and soprano, and alto and mezzo, and contralto, singing and singing, until life
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Ashley
Apr 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Judy
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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TheSkepticalReader
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Took 3 tries and quite a lot of pages but I ended up really liking it.
Rikke
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books, classics
They could not have had more happiness in their eyes, and my heart could not have known more lightness, or I would have been off the earth and drinking the skies.

This book is so well-written. It is bittersweet, melancholic and beautifully sad.

Llewellyn paints the picture of a man looking back on his childhood without its golden haze of innocence. Huw, the main character and narrator, remembers blackberry pies, the joy of books, his mother's cooking and his first love in a brutal contrast to
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Jenn
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: highlyrecommend
I have a short attention span and, thus, have a hard time reading books by people like, say, Steinbeck or Hardy, where the scenery becomes a character...meaning there are endless passages describing meadows and livestock. However, I loved this book, and, it could be argued, that it has some of that atmospheric quality. I once gave a presentation to a group of women about books I recommend for book groups, and when I mentioned this one, one of the old women - let me say this again, she was OLD ...more
Quirkyreader
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was even better the second time around.
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Never too Late to...: 2019 August: How Green Was My Valley 64 39 Aug 26, 2019 11:04AM  
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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 dealt with a Welsh theme, the best-known being How Green Was My Valley
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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.” 1074 likes
“How green was my valley then, and the valley of them that have gone.” 40 likes
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