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Manon Steffan Ros reviews
Rhyd y Gro by Sian Northey
What a Way To Go by Julia Forster

Rhyd y Gro

Gomer, £8.99

There are some books that are wholly ruined by anticipation. We, the avid readers, wait impatiently for our favourite authors to get on with it and publish a new collection or novel. And when the day comes that we finally get our hungry hands on a copy, the books so often buckle under the weight of expectation.

This was my concern when I got my paws on a copy of Rhyd y Gro by Sian Northey. Sian is an author and poet well known for the pretty subtlety of her writing. She is the ultimate master of the golden rule of writing: show, don’t tell. There is a particular mood of understatement in her work that I am yet to find in any other author, and so, under the influence of her previous work, I was almost dreading having to read Rhyd y Gro.

The plot starts with unexpected theatre: Efa receives a letter from her long-dead mother, revealing the identity of Efa’s father. One almost expects this to start a thundering avalanche of drama, but in typical Northey style, there is a slow realism in the reactions to this revelation. Human nature and real life pervade the atmosphere of each and every situation, character and plotline. The relationships are achingly familiar, especially the brand new friendship between father and daughter. Occasionally, it is frustrating to witness the tragic politeness of these characters, which adds to the pressure cooker of building tension.

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