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Border Country

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  15 reviews
When railway signalman Harry Price suddenly suffers a stroke, his son Matthew, a lecturer in London, makes a return to the border village of Glynmawr. As Matthew and Harry struggle with their memories of personal and social change, a beautiful and moving portrait of the love between a father and son emerges.
Paperback, 450 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Parthian Books (first published January 1st 1962)
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  156 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book. It took me some time to get into it, but as I got used to the pace it began to dig deeply into my psyche. At some point I began to realise that this could well have been the autobiographical voice of my father, who became an academic, and who's own father was a signalman. It's billed as being a book about the general strike of 1926, but its much more than that. It's a history of a village and valley in which the subtle transitions and shifts of character and life are chart ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
May 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a lovely book with sweet, nostalgic writing. It's pretty gentle stuff about changing times, class and identity and there was much that resonated with me. Ultimately though it just wasn't my kind of book, but understand the high ratings on here.
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since I've finished a book and immediately wanted to turn it over and read it again, wanted to crawl into the world of the book and lived there. This made me want to do that. It reached my emotional core, and I loved it.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: british, welsh
Raymond Williams' 1960 novel opens with Matthew Price, a university lecturer from the Welsh Borders, running through a multicultural London where a smile from a fellow traveller is rare, to catch a bus. And in many ways he never stops running until the book's close. A historian, he is studying the migration of labourers in 19th century Wales, a process that he himself has continued by moving from the valley to Cambridge and eventually London, and one which is of course still going on today. But ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book struck a code for me as it was about identity. It is also about journeys. Although it is a novel, I am wondering if it is based on Raymond Williams own experiences.

The main character, Matthew Price aka Will, returns to Glynmawr where is Father is very ill. His father, Harry, is a signalman in the border country overlooking the Black mountain.

It is also a social history of the inter-war years told from the perspective of a skilled railwayman. It is also about tradition in conflict with
Bob Tyrrell
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful exploration of the impact of change on an individual and a community, how some live true to their values in an understanding of the essential futility of the idea of progress whilst others go with the flow, believing they are 'moving forward' and 'getting on'. Who is right and who dies the closest to understanding something about the nature of life? If you're Welsh you'll have the added bonus of seeing so much that is intimately, sensitively and accurately observed! Really a great bo ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Raymond Williams was a towering figure of mid-twentieth century cultural criticism but also had a successful career as a novelist. Border Country, first published in 1960, has many resonances with his own Monmouthshire childhood of the 1920s and 30s, and his later career as an academic. At the centre of the novel is the relationship between a son and his father, and their place within the wider network of family and friends that form the community of this bit of the border country between Wales ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredible read. On the surface a novel about the filial relationship between a son and his father, but also about an individual returning home after he's forgotten what home feels like. The title 'Border Country' doesn't just characterise the novel's setting of Glynmawr. It also speaks to the self-imposed emotional borders that university lecturer Matthew Price builds for himself. Immensely affecting.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
A deeply moving novel about a London university lecturer having to go back to his hometown on the Welsh side of the border to be with his father who has just suffered a heart attack. A tale of going back, rather than going away, of the borders we construct for ourselves, whether geographical, emotional, or in terms of class and identity. A tearjerker too.
Suzanne Ashworth
Atypical Welsh of its time and worth persevering with.
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Een "vergeten" klassieker die best wat meer aandacht mag krijgen. Grensland vertelt het verhaal van iemand die van het Welshe platteland naar de stad trok, voor job, zekerheid en liefde. Maar nu zijn vader op sterven ligt, keert hij terug naar zijn roots, en naar de verhalen van vroeger. En die verhalen zeggen meer over hem (en over ons) dan hij vermoedde.

Een ontdekking, toch wel. Literair zit het mooi in mekaar, bovendien sociaal-politiek erg relevant. Ook in deze barre tijden.

Ik heb het boek i
Sioned Raybould
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I studied this book alongside 'How green was my valley' for my Advanced Higher English dissertation. It takes a few chapters to get into but it is a wonderful, beautifully written and heart breaking novel of a welsh boy who leaves his valley to venture out into the world and returns later in life.
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Riveting read right from the start. i found it very emotional and poignant. highly recommended
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
I loved the book in Dutch first, then read it again in the original and loved it even more. This is an absolute 20th century classic. To be savoured slowly.
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very good. And much broader appeal than just Welshness. See my full review on my blog at:
Deanne McCann
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Apr 24, 2017
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May 25, 2011
Tom Collingridge
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Jul 28, 2017
Morgan Owen
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Apr 28, 2013
Stephen Wilks
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Jun 21, 2015
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Greet De
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Jun 10, 2014
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Jun 02, 2019
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Jill in East Kent's book club choice 1 4 Jun 30, 2013 10:52AM  

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Raymond Henry Williams was a Welsh academic, novelist, and critic. He taught for many years and the Professor of Drama at the University of Cambridge. He was an influential figure within the New Left and in wider culture. His writings on politics, culture, the mass media and literature are a significant contribution to the Marxist critique of culture and the arts. His work laid the foundations for ...more
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“When you go out first on your own. When you marry and settle. When your father dies. When your son leaves home.” 1 likes
“When you’re young,’ Harry said, ‘you just see things. There’s nothing much to say about them. You don’t realize then all the life that’s gone into it.” 0 likes
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