HERONSMILL by Roscoe Howells


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A placid, rambling family tale stretching from one world war to the next, all about the career of farmer Eben Harter and his assorted kin and neighbors in the English-speaking south of Wales. Raised in the midst of the inter-related folk of a small village, young Eben suffers some youthful disappointments and sorrows--the death of his Mare when he's eight; his father's refusal to allow him to continue school after 14; a bad knee which forces his retirement from professional rugby; and an early rush into marriage with willful, higher-class Penny, who helps him in his rugby career, teaches him speech and table graces, and ropes him in with the word ""pregnant"" after they dally in the dell. But in spite of the miserable marriage--Penny is a lazy whiner and later sleeps around--Eben weathers through. There's his pride in his ""Blackie"" herd of cows; the birth of son Benjie; and the ever-fascinating spreading-out of kin, as far as New Zealand and Canada. The years go on with deaths and births, reunions and hard times and bonanzas, and finally, after the death of Penny's pa, Eben divorces Penny and marries the woman he loves--Merry, a former Land Force Lady (she worked on Eben's farm in World War II), now an economist. At the close there are a trio of happy weddings: Merry and Eben; Eben's brother Mark and his longtime love, Rachel; and Benjie and Jackie, daughter of Merry's very best friend. A pleasant tale, mill-pond slow, but with a warm round of farming, animal husbandry, murmurously nostalgic country, lots about rugby (most of it incomprehensible), and large doses of the owld talk.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1980
Publisher: St. Martin's