Friday, 8 December 2017

Lonely Is The Valley by Gwen Kirkwood

Lonely is the Valley by Gwen Kirkwood
First published in the UK by Robert Hale under the author name Lynn Granger in 1985. Republished by Endeavour Press in 2012.

This was my second book for the 2016 Read Scotland Challenge

How I got this book:
Received a copy from its publishers, Endeavour Press, to read in preparation for their Virtual Historical Fiction Festival in April 2016.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After losing her parents at a young age, Ceri finds solace in the valleys where they settled and never dreams of a life elsewhere. Accustomed to life in the small community, Ceri is devoted to helping her grandfather maintain the farm. Although sheltered, Ceri does have someone to love. Hugh Davies is her childhood sweetheart who Ceri expects she’ll marry - one day. But Ceri’s expectations are thrown out of the window when a striking but domineering Scotsman named Mark Mackay, a newcomer to the area, introduces himself to Ceri.

Lonely Is The Valley is set in a rural Welsh farming community at the time of its writing, the mid-1980s. I admit to being surprised at its era having expected books with a greater time distance for a Historical Fiction Festival read. If my childhood years are considered history now, then I must be older than I think! The plotline follows a pretty standard 'light romance' trajectory from antagonism to love with most of the action being driven by missed communication and misunderstandings. I liked the descriptions of the valley itself and the close-knit community vibe, however I was disappointed with the shallow characterisation which made it difficult for me to believe in our protagonists' interactions. The novel is infuriatingly dated in its gender attitudes too.

Ceri Owen, the heroine, is frequently described as independent, yet rarely displays any behaviour other than that of a doormat. Mark, her would-be suitor, is creepily patronising, controlling and emotionally abusive yet, as readers, we are apparently not only supposed to find these attractive traits, but also to blithely accept that being sexually assaulted by him triggers thoughts of love in Ceri. I frequently felt very uncomfortable while reading Lonely Is The Valley. Mark's treating of Ceri as if she is a child and her own clinging need to be subservient to a male figure, almost at any cost, is decidedly awkward and an unhealthy example to promote as a desirable relationship.

Etsy Find!
by White Tree Crafts in
Llandysul, Wales

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Books by Gwen Kirkwood / Romance fiction / Books from England

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