The Coward's Tale: Book summary and reviews of The Coward's Tale by Vanessa Gebbie

The Coward's Tale

by Vanessa Gebbie

The Coward's Tale by Vanessa Gebbie X
The Coward's Tale by Vanessa Gebbie
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2012
    384 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Nine-year-old Laddy Merridew, sent to live with his grandmother for reasons he does not understand, stumbles off the bus in a small Welsh town where he begins an unlikely friendship with old Ianto Passchendaele Jenkins, the town beggar-storyteller. Through Ianto, Laddy learns of the collapse decades earlier of a coal mine called Kindly Light-a disaster whose legacy has echoed through generations, shaping lives in unexpected ways. And while Ianto spins the lively stories of so many men and women in this town, it's his own history in Kindly Light that is the story he can't tell.

Like Richard Llewellyn's beloved classic How Green Was My Valley, Vanessa Gebbie's The Coward's Tale richly evokes the tightly bound communities of old Welsh mining towns - their loyalties and betrayals, loves and losses. Like Llewellyn, Gebbie was brought up by Welsh parents in England. Unlike him, however, she took every opportunity to spend time in Wales throughout her formative years. Her sense of place is evoked with an authentic, dark beauty and a heightened, almost magical charm. Her prose is steeped in the cadences that surrounded her as a child. This rich tapestry of a novel is spellbinding and unforgettable.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. With the hypnotic charm of her Welsh lilt, natural storyteller Gebbie whittles tales from a hard bone of loss to create a profoundly moving world." - Kirkus Reviews

"The tenderness and generosity of this debut novel is strengthened by the precision and sharpness of its language." - Publishers Weekly

"Gebbie is as at ease with humour as she is with poignancy... It would have been good to have more of a current storyline. Hints of bullying are never investigated fully, nor is Laddy's past or future much touched on. But this is my only criticism of a hypnotic debut." - The Independent (UK)

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Author Information

Vanessa Gebbie

Vanessa Gebbie has previously written numerous prize-winning short stories, and published two collections, as well as a book on the art of the short story. The Coward's Tale is her first novel, and marks her U.S. debut. An extract from the novel won the Daily Telegraph Novel in a Year Competition. This year, Vanessa is writer-in-residence at Stockholm University. Born in Wales, she lives in Sussex. Visit her online at www.vanessagebbie.com.

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