Book Review: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Originally published in 1939, it was the first novel that Richard Llewellyn (1906-1983) wrote.

Original Cover:

My copy was published in 1997 by Scribner Paperback Fiction--Simon and Schuster New York
512 pages
Fiction/Wales/Coal Mine/Coming of Age Story
Paperback $14.00

Link for book @ Amazon:
Paperback $11.56

Link for book @ Publisher:
Paperback $17.00

This book was bought by me for reading/reviewing.

I've had the book How Green Was My Valley sitting on my book shelf for a long time. I would often look at it, plan to read it, then it would be put to the back of my TBR pile. Two weeks ago I made up my mind to finally read it!

Many of you have seen the film How Green Was My Valley, made in 1941. Several well known actor's portrayed characters: Walter Pigeon, Maureen O'Hara, Roddy McDowell, Anna Lee.
I've never watched the film completely through, only catching scenes here and there. 

How Green Was My Valley was written from the feelings, thoughts, perspective--voice of a boy named Huw Morgan. When the book begins he is 6 years old. He has 5 older brothers: Ivor, Ianto, Davy, Owen, Gwilym. He has 2 older sisters: Angharad and Ceridwen, later a younger sister is born, Olwen. The parents are Gwilym and Beth Morgan. They live in a small village in south Wales. The time period was during the time of Queen Victoria, I believe the later part of her reign---probably the late 1800's. The coal mine is the source of income for nearly all of the men in the valley. Church, family, morality, perseverance and determination are all supreme amongst the people of this region. Neighbors help one another, people stand up for what is right and what they feel is wrong. At times they are rigid and harsh in their judgments against others---yet they feel embattled against the the demise of their little community's moral standing.
The Morgan family's love for one another is tender, despite the strong arguments and difference of opinions among them. The men work in the coal mine and the women are the mistresses of the home. Huw observes his older brothers and sisters in their home life, love life, angst of making a living in the coal mine, and fighting for fair wages and strength in union. Huw is the often unobserved one; the quiet, reflective, and trustworthy sibling.  The book follows Huw's life until he becomes a young man, the book does not tell how old he is at the finish of the book, it is rather vague as to the rest of his life.
This is a beautifully written book. The story is haunting, memorable. The love that Huw had for the mountain and the valley were described with tender affection and fluid words that caressed my heart. Huw is a boy that is pliable, touchable, honest, endearing. Each member of the family, including those that join the family as in-law's have their own life stories that the reader is given glimpses of. Yet, the story is mainly from Huw's own personal life.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book:

"O, there is lovely to feel a book, a good book, firm in the hand, for its fatness holds rich promise, and you are hot inside to think of good hours to come."

"How green was my valley, then, and the valley of them that have gone."

Morgan is a family name on my mother's side of the family. I know that they came from Wales. I thought of that often while reading this book of the Morgan family.

Blissful Reading!


  1. I watched the movie a number of years ago when I was watching all the Best Pictures, in order, and liked the story told in the movie. My mother has been after me for years to read it--I also have a Morgan on my father's side of the family, so she was pushing that angle as well.

    >This is a beautifully written book. The story is haunting, memorable. The love that Huw had for the mountain and the valley were described with tender affection and fluid words that caressed my heart.

    I really love this kind of book--living near the mountains myself, I can relate to the affection they inspire.

    Thanks for reminding of a book that I really need to get..and read!

  2. Hello Jane, so happy to see you here and thank you for the comment!


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