Planet 234

Ffion Mair Jones
Cofio’r Wylfa
by Emlyn Richards and
Het Wellt a Welis: Blwyddyn Gron yn Astwrias by Cathi McGill

by Emlyn Richards

Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, £8.50

Two close-knit but beleaguered rural communities are at the heart of these two books. At first glance, little might connect the weighty subject of remembrance invoked by Richards with an account of the apparently spontaneous decision made by McGill and her husband during a holiday to the Picos de Europa to buy a home in the Asturian village of Ribadesella (Asturian Ribeseya). On the one hand lies a community whose plight is justifiably compared with a string of historical cases of enforced eviction in Wales; on the other, the story of a personal decision to emigrate to northern Spain. Yet, our expectations in both cases may be challenged by the authors’ approaches. Richards – a self-confessed opposer of the use of nuclear energy – treads carefully between indignation at the activities of the authorities, and awareness that there were multiple views about the development of a power station at Wylfa in the 1960s/70s and its potential successor, Wylfa B, between 2011 and 2020, when the plan was shelved. This sensitivity mutes the tone of outrage in the work, making it a careful and balanced tribute to the Wylfa community. McGill offers a portrayal written from a position of cultural sensitivity, sincere and inquisitive. Her sub-title (A whole year ...) invokes Peter Mayle’s best-selling A Year in Provence, but she swiftly breaks free from the pattern by grounding her work in history, language and community. Not for her the stereotypical approach so evident in Mayle’s egotistical self-dramatisation, and his account of the local inhabitants with their strange ‘patois’ and bewildering habits.

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