Country Dance by Margiad Evans, a novella, is set in the the border country between Wales and England in the late 19th century. It’s the story of Ann Goodman, the daughter of an English shepherd and a Welsh mother. It’s told in diary form, telling how she left her cousin’s farm, Twelve Poplars in Wales, for her parents’ home in England to look after her mother. She had promised Gabriel, an English shepherd working on her cousin’s farm that she would keep a diary of her visit to England.
Whilst in England her father’s employer, a Welsh landowner, Evan ap Evans, takes a fancy to her. When Gabriel visits her he is infuriated by Evan’s attentions to her, especially as they talk together in Welsh. And it is this relationship that sets in motion the conflict between the two men.
I was confused when I began reading, trying to work out these relationships and I wondered why Ann was living in Wales away from her parents – I don’t think that was ever explained. But anyway as she rejects both men this turns the book into a tragedy, with the English and the Welsh at each others’ throats, divided by language and profound misunderstandings. Ann, herself is equally torn between her dual heritage.
Whilst I didn’t love this book, I did enjoy reading it and would like to read more of Margiad Evans’ work.
Artist and writer Margiad Evans (Peggy Whistler) was born in Uxbridge in 1909. Her work includes Country Dance (1932); The Wooden Doctor (1933); Turf or Stone (1934), and Creed (1936), as well as non-fiction, short stories, autobiography and two collections of poetry, Poems from Obscurity (1947) and A Candle Ahead (1956).
- Publisher : Parthian Books (1 Dec. 2012)
- Language : English
- Print length : 110 pages
- My Rating: 3*