This is the fifth volume of the seven-part The Land of the Living series and appears as part of a much-needed reprinting. Amy Parrys story is continued against the background of the Second World War and Humphreyss unhurried prose chronicles her shifting relationship with her uninspired poet husband, John Cilydd More.
This is a world set adrift. Louse-ridden evacuee children arrive to be billeted with Welsh families while other refugees arrive, seeking sanctuary from further afield. Refugees such as the Jewish night-walker Hans, who falls for Amy. A secret kiss exchanged between them is seen by the sour sister-in-law Nanw. And a Wales where Welsh nationalism as practised by poet John, fighting in vain to stop carefree Holiday Camps from opening up on the coast is evolving at a pace. The poets convictions run counter to those of his beautiful wife, who is courted by the Labour party and offered the opportunity to stand for Parliament. The marriage rifts widen. Then Johns sister commits suicide by setting herself on fire, a terrible echo of Hiroshima. Towards the end of the book, Amy finds herself pregnant with her third child and considers termination but the child, Peredur, is eventually born and baptised. But her sister-in-law Nanws death creates a chasm between her and her husband which takes us to a cliffhanger ending, as Amy prepares to leave.
Emyr Humphreyss narrative voice is accessible, chiming perfectly with the quiet domesticity of the drama as it unfolds. It is tale of writers block and village shops, of molecatchers and red roadsters, along with lifes usual deaths and entrances. Open Secrets continues the story of one woman, and through her the history of Wales, and in particular Welsh-speaking Wales, in the last century. Amys confidence is that of emancipation and in that she is an archetype, a woman whose confidence mirrors that of the much larger sonority around her. The novel is part of an important series, a snapshot of a small nations psyche at a time of rupture and change.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.