The story of a childhood in a remote part of Wales at the turn of the century is marked by the extremes of poverty and cruelty of perhaps an earlier Victorian era which lend a distinguishing mark of duress. Seth is born in a stable, the bastard son of pretty Megan who is abandoned by her lover, and Megan- for his sake-marries a fisherman, Bill Edwards, coarse and uncontrolled when drunk. They move to a mining town where Bill, under the influence of Dai, a haulier,- and liquor, brutalizes them both; Seth's pet lamb is deliberately killed, and Megan, pregnant, dies after Bill lays a very rough hand to her. Seth is sent to his grandmother, for a happy interim until after her death, in Dai's home is a witness to all kinds of wanton and wicked activities, relieved only by the hours spent at school and singing in the church. But finally the death of Lottie Morgan frees him from his chief persecutor, and he is given a chance to go to London and study music.... A first novel, this adheres to the idiom of this period and this part of the world, but it is still a robust exploitation of unfortunate circumstance and sometimes unbelievable cruelty.