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A Writer's House in Wales (National Geographic Directions) Hardcover – January 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Morris is an esteemed journalist, historian, and author of over 40 books, including The World of Venice and The Matter of Wales. In her latest effort, which launches this new series of travel memoirs, she writes about Trefan Morys, her country home in a remote corner of Wales. Starting at her house, Morris wanders lovingly through the history of Wales as well as her own life, and discusses how the two have combined to create the structure and atmosphere that she calls home. She walks the reader through the house, retelling the thoughts, sensations, and smells she has experienced there. When describing the kitchen, for example, she starts with physical details, then discusses the history and present nature of Welsh hospitality and food, and ends by detailing the smells of a lunch she would offer to a visitor. The historical explanations and glimpses into Welsh culture are masterfully woven into the narrative and include fascinating details, such as the recipe for sgotyn, a dish composed of bread, boiling water, and salt and pepper. This beautifully written and absorbing book is recommended for all libraries. [Forthcoming books in this series include Rubert Hughes revisiting Barcelona, W.S. Merwin writing on Provence, and more. Ed.] Alison Hopkins, Queens Borough P.L., New York
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
This is an informal, light-hearted, and quick read (just two sessions in my Writer's Hammock in Seattle). And yet, it's also deeply moving. Morris describes all the facets of her converted stables -- a house in Wales, a Welsh house, a writer's house, and finally, a writer's house in Wales -- while meditating on life, death, history, culture, and the nature of friendship and hospitality. There's a lot packed between these covers!
As a book person myself, I responded most strongly to Morris' tour of her library -- a space chock full of art, music, and, of course, books. 'I have never counted the books in my own library,' she writes, 'but I would guess there are seven or eight thousand here, packed tight in their long white bookshelves, upstairs and down. I love them all, whatever their subject, whatever their condition, whatever their size. I love walking among them, stroking their spines. I love sitting on a sofa amongst them, contemplating them. I love the feel of them between my fingers, and I love the smell of them...' (pp. 101-2). She waxes just as lyrical about her kitchen, the stones of the exterior walls, the exposed wooden beams overhead ('marinated, so to speak, in age and hauled up here to my house to bless us all, like incense in a church' [p. 43]), the smell of smoke in the air, the view of the sea, even the poachers who steal onto her land to fish from her stretch of the river.
This book is like a hymnal.Read more ›
Wales is rocky, hilly, wild and smack up against the Atlaantic. Its people, among the oldest of Britain's many peoples, hve clung to their language, their rocky shores, their magic for centuries against the many Saxon, Norman, and English incursions. One hopes they can withstand the latest onslaught of modern "culture".
Morris waxes eloquently about her centuries old house--once a stable--which she preserves. It is strangely modular from the heart of the house downstairs kitchen where neighbors stop to gossip and the postman drops in to leave the mail (once catching Morris descending her stairs in the buff!) to the entirely separate library and study where she does her work.
The house is delightful. The grounds overgrown and magical. Morris worships--at least metaphorically--the ancient god Pan and the book reflects that: a sensuality and sensibility that are natural, druidical and incredibly appealing. This is a quick delightful read, wherein you gain insights into a wonnderful land and a unique individual. Take the trip!
She takes us, after a quick summary (you can read her "[The Matter of] Wales: Epic Views of a Small Country" for splendid, if somewhat impassioned, detail) of the nation's history, into her home, Trefor Morys, near the River Dwyfor, between the Cardigan Bay and Snowdon/ Yr Wyddfa, not far from the home not only of poet R.S. Thomas but of the chimerical red dragon fighting the white Saxon dragon in the vision of Merlin. Morris tells, efficiently and powerfully, of the appeal of mountain fastnesses, flowing tributaries, and rain-soaked slate. She captures the smells and the woods around the converted 18c stable house she shares with her partner, and where they live surrounded by mementoes of their children. One small disappointment: I do wish, given the revelations of "Conundrum" in the 1970s about her sex-change, that Morris had given more domestic context for what must have been a fascinating family to raise given such conditions, but she, except for a casual aside to the operation, remains reticent. Three decades on, a further update on her situation in this domestic haven would have been a welcome addition to this restrained, carefully composed memoir-of-sorts.Read more ›
This led me to do research on her and was astounded at her cause to humanity.
A very worthwhile silly read:)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Being of Welsh decent, I enjoyed this book; however, it severely lacked in photographs which I would have preferred to go along with the descriptions. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Carolyn Dargevics
Written as if you were chatting with the author over tea in her lovingly restored home in Wales.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book was a gift to my friend who returns to Wales every year if possible. She was thrilled and remarked that it captures life in Wales perfectly.Published on January 19, 2014 by Amazon Customer
Jan Morris is a prolific author, though probably best known for her travel literature. Her works have an understated, sometimes detached quality that for me never quite captures... Read morePublished on September 24, 2013 by Acorn
I bought this book for my aunt, thinking she would enjoy it because our ancestors are from Cornwall, England...next door neighbors to Wales. Read morePublished on August 25, 2013 by Carol
And an interesting subject. I would recommend this book to lovers of Wales, Jan Morris, or travel in general. Check out other Morris's books, too.Published on July 18, 2013 by Meviews
I very much like Morris's sensibility and writing. I like the way she brings the reader into the house to experience the place and furnishings she describes. Read morePublished on July 14, 2013 by Carlin
When I lived in London, I used to escape a few weekends a month; one of my most frequent travels was to Wales. I grew to love the Wye Valley Walk, Tintern Abbey, Chepstow, St. Read morePublished on January 4, 2011 by FrKurt Messick