This is probably one of the books I’m most excited to ever be able to review on my blog. I have such a personal connection with it, even more so after reading one particular scene, which had me in tears, and if you’re interested in history and auto/biographies, it is definitely one that you need to add to your TBR list. I mention it all the time, but between March-October, I spend as much time as I can in my caravan in North Wales. I’ve been going to the same caravan park for 20 years, and in 2016, the owner of the caravan park, Owain Williams published Tryweryn: A Nation Awakes, the story of his life as a Welsh Freedom Fighter.
Owain Williams ‘Now Gwynus’ has always cut a romantic figure. He worked on a Canadian ranch before returning to Pwllheli to run a very trendy espresso cafe while driving around in an American Ford Customline. Suddenly, he hit the national headlines after blowing up the transformer that fed the Tryweryn valley site a turning point in the Welsh national awakening of the sixties. There follows a life in and out of jail and of marriages, with periods in Germany and Ireland while running from the Special Branch and MI5. But his colourful and personal story is set against an important period in Welsh history. Owain remained, through it all, a selfless Welsh nationalist and idealist. This honest, gripping autobiography will inspire as well as entertain.
When the woman in the caravan next door gave me her copy, I knew I had to read it, but when I found out that the anniversary of the event was February 8th, I knew I had to hold off until it was the right time to share a review before I read it.
This is Williams’ second book, the first, Cysgod Tryweryn, is mentioned in Tryweryn: A Nation Awakes and tells a similar story. It covers the events that took place at Tryweryn as well as his life in prison afterwards. However, this novel goes on to talk about life in Ireland, and his career on the Welsh Council as well as referring to the caravan park where I first met him. As you would expect, this novel follows the life of Owain Williams. Starting in his early childhood and even beforehand as he explains briefly the lives of his parents, Williams shows how events took place as far back as before he was born when his mother’s village was flooded due to similar plans of that which took place at Tryweryn, effected his political view and led to his involvement in Tryweryn.
I am probably bias, I’ve known Owain since I was 3 years old, but I absolutely loved this book and how it was written. There are parts where it’s almost like I could hear him saying it. It’s full of his sense of humour throughout and at times I can hear his laugh after he’s made a joke or a sarcastic comment in the book. It’s engaging, insightful, I feel like I’ve learned so much about Welsh history just from reading this book as he relates his actions to historic events. In general it’s a very inspiring story. He’s been through so much in his life, one of my favourite scenes, if I can call it that, is when he spoke about his daughter who was sick in hospital. Politics was a huge part of his life, but even when he was in prison or hiding out in Ireland he still thought about his family and his children. His daughter in hospital died when she was seven years old from Hydrocephalus and I cried because it’s the first time I’ve seen my condition mentioned in a piece of literature. That scene explained my whole childhood because he was always nicer to me than the other kids on the caravan park, I never heard of them getting a birthday card from him, maybe that’s why? Who knows? Reading Tryweryn has also inspired me to wanting to learn Welsh, as he talks more about his legal political career, he talks about how he campaigned to have Welsh flags in schools and public spaces, and Welsh classes for the English, and I’d love to learn a few basic phrases.
I already knew bits and pieces about Owains life before the caravan park, so I had a vague idea of what was going to happen in the book, and it was everything I’d expected and more! It was sad, scary, funny, heartbreaking, so many emotions folded into the pages that I couldn’t put it down. I think it’s the quickest I’ve ever gotten through a book of that size. If you love reading biographies and learning about history, then I highly recommend you read Tryweryn: A Nation Awakes by Owain Williams.
3 thoughts on “Reviewing Tryweryn: A Nation Awakes Nearly 60 Years After It Happened!”
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Thank you so much for sharing my blog! I’m glad you enjoyed the review, Owain will be made up when I tell him that people are enjoying his book.
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It was a real pleasure to share your review, Ember. I hope it brought you a few new readers. 😊
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