green valley turns black
By Sudeep Jain
Richard Llewellyn’s bestselling novel released in 1939, “How Green Was My Valley” is a true classic be all means. John Ford’s movie based on this novel won the Oscar as best movie of 1941. Set in a turn-of-the-century Welsh coal-mining town, Valley follows the fortunes of the Morgan family as the industrial revolution grinds them down. The narrator, Huw Morgan, tells the story of the lives and loves of his extended family and their town folks. Their close-knit community disintegrates under the pressures of modern life and the decreasing profitability of the mine. He introduces with the characters. His brothers who have to move to America to make a living or others who are killed in the coal pits, to the widowed sister-in-law who Huw loves for years but never tells. There is Mr. Gruffudd the local minister who helps Huw through childhood paralysis & becomes his tutor. There is Dai Bando who teaches him to box and most of all to the beloved parents who suffer long but love greatly. The characters are all so perfect, and play their roles so well, that they are somewhat predictable. Huw is the only observer who has seen the changes from green valley to one blackened by coal dust.
The language itself is lyrical and haunting, the story ineffably sad. But always, Huw reminds us that these remarkable people live on in him. I like the warmth and love Richard Llewellyn had for his Welsh family and the coal-mining village where he grew up. You will dip into the story for sure. A lovely read.