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An epic read with many rewards


At the start of April the postman laboured towards my house with the latest book in the Welsh Women’s Classic series. This giant tome contained three volumes of Ann of Swansea’s (or Ann Julia Hatton’s) Cambrian Pictures, an epic series set in North Wales. And after some arm stretches and a protein shake, I was ready to lift up this huge book and set to reading.

A book this size to a hobby reader like myself can be a daunting prospect, and my first instinct was that I’m not going to complete this challenge in time, but by the second chapter I quickly found the prose running along at pace and—although my arms were aching by the time I put the book down on an evening—the story seemed magnificently manageable.

Inside the book we learn Cambrian Pictures has an alternate title, Everybody has Errors which really sums up how this weaving narrative explores a host of varied and dynamic characters, the standout of which is Rosa Percival our Welsh heroine; a strong-willed, fiercely independent woman, battling a historical period stacked against her. Her journey through these pages is often funny and outrageous in all the right ways.

A surprising turn for me was the poetry blended into this work, some of Ann of Swansea’s, but also passages from other poets. It is also masterful how powerful the social commentary is in the overall narrative. I found as I hungrily read page after page that both the creative and the practical sides of my brain were quickly satisfied. This book is a must read for fans of Bronte or Austen and what a treat to discover something new from such a long time ago!

Now, confession time – could I finish this book in one month? No, I couldn’t. I’ve still got a little way to go and I’m going to relish not having to rush through the final pages and savour the poetry properly without the pressures of the end of the month looming – if you’re completing the challenge too and running behind I urge you to do the same. Somethings are best left unrushed and don’t forget Everybody has Errors.

Lynzie Fitzpatrick – April 2024

[Lynzie Fitzpatrick, Honno’s Business Manager, is one of the team embarking on the Classics Reading Challenge this year. Keep an eye on our website and social media for more updates and reviews of our Welsh Women’s Classics]

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