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The SSiW Welsh Book Club 📖 📚 👓


Diffodd y Sêr by Haf Llewelyn

I had been procrastinating over reading this, because it tells the story the famous poet Hedd Wyn, and I knew his fate already. From the cover, I thought it might dwell on his experiences in the ditches, which was never going to be cheery reading.

However the book is actually told from the perspective of his thirteen year old sister, Anni, so was much easier to read emotionally than I was expecting. The war is the background to everything, but at the start she actually knows very little about it, probably less than we do now, and of course she is preoccupied by other topics, such as her friendships. All in all, I found it about as gentle as can be given the topic. I studied the English war poets for GCSE and this was a lot less brutal than that!

The book is fairly short at 120 pages, and I thought the language was pretty clear so it should be fairly accessible to someone who’s ready to move off books for learners. If you’ve read Efa, for example, you could read this.


Milionêrs - Marlyn Samuel

This book is now out of print and it took me a while to find what I really think might have been the last brand new copy of it available anywhere … with the help of Marlyn herself and a combined effort from several bookshops around Wales. :grinning:

This is the third novel by Marlyn Samuel I’ve read (after Cicio’r Bwced and Llwch yn yr Haul ) and I have to say that I’ve enjoyed each one equally.

This one is about Wendi, from Ynys Môn, who is like so many of us, scraping a living from day to day, waiting for the next payday to arrive. Then she wins £9.1m on the lottery and her and her family’s lives change … not all for the better.

Rough translation of the back cover blurb …
"Wow! Winning the Lottery. There’s an experience every one of us wishes to have. When a busy wife, mam and gran wins £9.1 million it appears that her problems are over. But, very soon, Wendi discovers that life isn’t necessarily all rosy despite her bank account being remarkably healthy.

The same as I wrote for Cicio’r Bwced and Llwch yn yr Haul … This is a grown-up’s book so not an easy read like those aimed at teenagers or learners but I wouldn’t say it was difficult either. Marlyn uses straightforward, simple language that’s very accessible so I wouldn’t think it would be impossible even for beginners and certainly ok for intermediate readers.


Peter Moore: Y Gwaethaf o’r Gwaethaf - Dyfed Edwards

Another book in the Stori Sydyn series, this time the telling of two of the most famous violent crime cases in Wales.

First, Peter Moore, who has been described as one of the most dangerous people to set foot in North Wales. He attacked tens of men between the 70s and the 90s, killing 4 of them.

Second is the case of Lynette White, a sex worker from Cardiff, who was murdered back in 1988. This became famous more for being one of the worst examples of maladministration of justice ever in the UK.

Given the nature of this book it won’t be to everyone’s taste but I found it really quite interesting. If true life crime is your thing then this has to be worth £1.99 of your hard-earned.

Stori Sydyn = suitable for all abilities.


Hi Cetra, after reading your recommendation for Eva I’ve just taken the plunge and order the book. I do love a good page turner. Diolch julie


Helo bawb!

I hope you’re all keeping well and enjoying your siwrne Gymraeg.

I wonder if you could help. My son loves y ddraig goch. Whenever he sees one he points at it and says draig goch and he roars. Does anyone know of a good children’s book, yn Gymraeg, with a draig goch as a character? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated :blush:

Diolch ymlaen llaw!



:heart_eyes:Enjoy Julie! If you like Efa, be sure to order the sequel quickly - its a real cliffhanger!! :slight_smile:


Just an encouragement to all you regular reviewers, I love this thread! I am working my way through the recommendations on here, I’d be lost without your ideas of what to read next😀


PM me your address Anthony, I’ll send you one. It’s not completely in Welsh but there is some in it.


Are you sure?? That’s lovely of you!


I thought that I would give “Peter Moore Y Gwaethaf o’r Gwaethaf” a try, although it is not my favourite kind of book, as it is in Stori Sydyn. I tried Gwales, but it was unavailable. Temptation took over at that stage, and I somehow find that I have 8 books coming in the post. This was meant to be a low-spend month so that I can pay the dentist, but never mind.
I am expecting
Meddyliau Eilir by Eilir Jones
Perygl yn Sbaen by Bob Eynon
Dal y fynd, Chwynnu, Cicio’r bar by Sioned Williams
Llechi by Manon Steffan Ros
Oes Heddwas?, Mynd fel bom by Myfanwy Alexander.
Most (all?) of these have been described above, so thank you.


Oes Heddwas is the first of 4 with Mynd fel Bom being the 4th. It’s not a series as such but you’ll see characters developing if you read the other two in between.


Here are three great books by Dewi Prysor: Brithyll = Trout (stolen), Madarch = Mushrooms (the magic kind) and Crawia = the kind of slate you see used to make fences (stolen, twice). They tell the hilarious adventures of a colourful crew of characters. Warning! :warning: The language in these books is bad, and the behaviour is worse, but there are scenes that will have you crying with laughter. :joy: You’ll likely learn some new vocab that you won’t find in SSiW, or any other course for that matter! :joy: All three books are lively, funny, and well worth a read!



Thank you, that’s useful info. It may be some time before I get round to reading them.




Cwcw - Marlyn Samuel

Marlyn is releasing her 5th book, 5 Diwrnod a Phriodas, this week so I wanted to read this first. This is her 3rd book and the 4th one that I’ve read. Confused?

Translated from the back cover …
“She’s your sister!”

“Half sister. I hardly know the girl! And I’m not keen to get to know her either, understand.”

Two sisters meet in their dad’s funeral. The two are so different to each other, it’s hard to believe that they’re half sisters. So will they grasp the chance to get to know each other, or will they remain strangers for the rest of their lives?

In my opinion another enjoyable read from Marlyn Samuel. I’m now very used to her writing style and her sense of humour makes these a great way to release the mind from serious every day issues that us adults have to endure. Lowri and Seren are the daughters of a recently deceased serial adulterer who, in the past, has done the dirty while married to the mothers of them both. They meet in their dad’s funeral but, due to their completely different backgrounds, don’t exactly hit it off at first. Lowri is a high earning attorney with a nice house and seemingly perfect life, Seren is a motorbike riding, leather wearing, straight-talking type of woman. But you can’t chose your family.

The same as I wrote for Cicio’r Bwced, Llwch yn yr Haul and Milionêrs… This is a grown-up’s book so not an easy read like those aimed at teenagers or learners but I wouldn’t say it was difficult either. Marlyn uses straightforward, simple language that’s very accessible so I wouldn’t think it would be impossible even for beginners and certainly ok for intermediate readers.


I’m delighted to say I’ve finished Y Stafell Ddirgel gan Marion Eames. Delighted because it’s over…

It’s rare for me not to recommend a book, but honestly, I think this one will work for a pretty select audience, specifically those interested in Quakerism and religious persecution in the seventeenth century.

The book tells the story of Rowland Ellis, a squire near Dolgellau who converts to Quakerism, which changes his life forever as his friends and family are persecuted for their beliefs.

Unfortunately for me it’s written in the vocab of the period so I was wading through Acts of Tolerance, the commonwealth, the Light within, bearing witness, taking oaths, seizure of property, suffering persecution, Papists / Baptists / Quakers / other sects, people being dauntless / presumptuous / meek / tranquil. And I just couldn’t get through all the vocab to enjoy the story.

I don’t think that it helped that it’s a mid twentieth century historical novel, as they’re really different in style to contemporary tastes. People are persecuted and bad things happen, but then you just move onto the next chapter, usually after Rowland admires somebody for their tranquility and faith in the face of such suffering. Maybe if I were reading it in English I’d find it intensely moving and appreciate his inner struggle and personal growth, but I’m not a good enough reader and I really just couldn’t get into it. Instead of relating to a universal story of faith, I was bogged down in trying to understand what was being said. I only finished it because I’m stubborn.

I feel a bit bad to be so negative about it as I know it’s a classic, but I recently heard an author comment they they had tried to make their recent book one people wanted to read, “not like Y Stafell Ddirgel”. So I don’t think I’m the only one to feel this way.

And on that note, I think that’s me done with the first language TGAU prose texts. Although I haven’t enjoyed every book, I’ve enjoyed the project as a whole. I was surprised how much they differed in complexity, from the extremely readable to this beast. My favourite is probably still I Ble’r Aeth Haul Y Bore by Eirug Wyn - that genuinely moved me. If you’re regularly reading books for native speakers in Welsh, don’t be afraid to give some of these a go. It’ll broaden your horizons and boost your confidence.

Now I’m off to read something fun…


Cai by Eurig Salisbury. This novel won the Prose Medal at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, 2016

Cai is a student in the art department at Aberystwyth University. He hopes to continue his post-graduate research into the work of the reclusive artist Aeres Vaughan who lives in a large house in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately Cai’s application for a grant is turned down, possibly because he wants to write his thesis in Welsh. Help arrives unexpectedly in the form of an offer of funding from a man called Esell who represents a private foundation. Cai is soon invited to Plas Helygog to meet Aeres Vaughan. There, with the help of another Aberystwyth student Ffion whose father lives nearby, he starts to uncover the dark secret behind some of the paintings hanging in the house.

I know Aberystwyth well, having been a student there myself many years ago and I have visited many times since. I also happen to live not that far from the fictitious Plas Helygog. The locations are well described and Eurig Salisbury conjures an atmosphere of suspense. Cai is suitably obsessed with his subject and Ffion is drawn into helping with his research.

I felt that the story sagged in the middle. There comes a point where nothing seems to be happening, other than Cai looking at paintings, searching through old documents and piecing together letters written by Aeres Vaughan which reveal that her niece’s death affected her badly. In fact I actually put the book down for several months. However, if you push on through the dull bit, the end is swift and dramatic as the details of the mystery are finally revealed.

The book is suited to confident readers, but after looking up a fair bit of vocabulary at the start relating to art, painting, sketching etc, it didn’t seem too difficult.


I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed “Cysgod Y Cryman” (Shadow of the Sickle) by Islywyn Ffowc Elis. I thought the subject matter (shift in society after WW2) and the language would slow me down, but the story is so gripping it barely lasted me three nights :upside_down_face: I could imagine this as a TV drama, with the scenes unfolding before my eyes (a bit like Brideshead Revisited!). Having read another book in the “Cam at y Cewri” series - “William Jones” by T Rowland Hughes (about hard life in the quarries and mines) - I thought I’d pass on my hearty recommendations. The novels in the Cam at y Cewri series have been adapted for learners, without losing their true essence, so you can enjoy the classic literature without struggling. There are helpful notes at the bottom of each page so you’re not constantly reaching for the dictionary or trying to work out the sense of unfamiliar phrases. They’re very, very good!! :slight_smile: .


On that, I really recommend the poetry anthology in the series. Poetry normally isn’t my thing, but I’ve really enjoyed this collection.


I enjoyed your review, by the sound of it far more than you enjoyed the book…