This is a tale of how one unexpected disclosure can change a whole family, and whilst most families will never have to face such a revelation, the ensuing joshing and jealousies of family life, as portrayed in this warm-hearted novel, will resonate with all.
Nofel gyfoes yn portreadu bywyd dinesig cyfforddus y teulu Lewis yng Nghaerdydd, ynghyd â hanes eu cyndeidiau Cymraeg eu hiaith o arfordir gorllewin Cymru a'r cyndeidiau Saesneg eu hiaith o Gwm Rhondda. Plethir bywydau'r tair ffordd o fyw ynghyd gyda hiwmor a thynerwch, wrth i gyfrinachau'r gorffennol gael eu datgelu.
Dana Edwards writes with a simplicity of language that makes The Other Half an excellent and informative novel for all ages, from adolescence upwards.
She tells the story of a typical middle-class family: Ben, a doctor, Jane, a volunteer in a charity shop, and their two children, Catrin, eighteen and studying for her A levels – her main interest being art history – and Tom, in his early twenties, who has graduated and is starting his first job.
The novel starts as Ben’s mother, Granny Lewis, is ‘breathing her last’. Catrin is at her bedside. ‘The old woman’s eyes flickered slightly. “You’re a good girl and, and…” Catrin held her breath as her grandmother fought to form the words, “so like me – as if – you were – my own blood.” Her gran’s eyes closed again. Catrin sat completely still, staring at her grandmother’s pale, expressionless face, waiting for her to say more. Nothing came and the slight gurgle in the back of her grandmother’s throat indicated that she was once more asleep.’
Catrin is totally disconcerted. What did her grandmother mean? Had her mother had an affair? Her best friend Siân suggests it might be that her father was adopted. This pacifies Catrin, but she becomes obsessed by the need to know the truth.
When she does ask her mother, she is told that her father had become infertile after her brother Tom had been born, and a donor had been located through an agency. Family life becomes fraught as Catrin decides to try to find her biological father. She approaches the agency and is first put in touch with a support group, where she meets Mark and his sister Lisa. The three become close friends and Catrin finds herself attracted to Mark. She is able to discover her donor brother Steffan who, unlike Catrin, has not had the benefit of a loving and supportive family.
Ralph hears through the agency that two of the children he fathered would like to make contact. His wife Miriam is doubtful. They have no children of their own.
Jane is annoyed with herself because, although she had thought it best that Catrin should be told in her infancy of the facts relating to her birth, she had not put pressure on Ben, who was always making excuses and saying the time was not right. The timing of Catrin’s discovery is far from right. She has obtained a place at Aberystwyth, her first choice university, and there had seemed to be no problem with her gaining the necessary A level grades. Now, her life in turmoil, she is bunking off school, mostly to spend time with Steffan, who has himself opted out of university and is doing very little but sit about all day, taking ‘smiley pills’.
Edwards draws a well-illustrated picture of the diversities and highly-charged emotions of middle-aged parents and their adolescent children; she writes with empathy and tact of the volatile relationship between mothers and daughters under pressure. The Other Half is a book that will be of special appeal to many.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Dana Edwards was born and raised in Carmarthenshire, West Wales, and now lives in Aberystwyth, where she studied for her PhD. She is currently a researcher on a series of documentaries about important Welsh historical figures.
Dana’s interests include choral singing and acting in amateur dramatics. The Other Half is her first novel.
This is a tale of modern family life with all its joshings and jealousies, told with humour and compassion. While the story revolves around the Lewis family's home in Victoria Park, a comfortable area of Cardiff, the narrative also moves to Welsh-speaking West Wales and to the Rhondda Valley. Through these trips we glimpse three very different Welsh lifestyles.