Planet 225

Mary-Ann Constantine reviews
by Eurig Salisbury


Gomer, £8.99

Cai, winner of this year’s Prose Medal at the National Eisteddfod, is an intriguing debut novel by the poet Eurig Salisbury. It’s a welcome new addition to the growing virtual world of Fictional Aberystwyth (Niall Griffiths, Malcolm Pryce, Fflur Dafydd, and more). Fans of the National Library of Wales will be delighted to find its reading rooms and corridors once more the setting for much of the action – though it is all rather more sedate than Dafydd’s Y Llyfrgell. No shots fired in anger here.

It tells the story of a fine-art student, Cai, who is unexpectedly awarded a grant to continue his researches into the work of a forgotten Welsh artist, Aeres Vaughan, a successful painter of portraits. At some point in the seventies, at the height of her career, Vaughan had returned abruptly from London to Wales and devoted herself entirely to the painting of landscape: there is a mystery about her life which Cai’s patient research will uncover. The money, it turns out, comes from Vaughan herself, now elderly and living up in the hills near Brithdir. Cai is eventually invited to meet her and explore her personal collection, but not before he has proved to the administrator of the fund that he is a worthy recipient of the award.

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