*For Welsh review, please see language toggle switch on top of page*
Suggested reading age: 10+
Interest age: 10+
REVIEW BY MARED LLYWELYN
As one who grew up in Morfa Nefyn, I’ve always been aware of this special author, Elizabeth Watkin-Jones.
Before I even read her novels, I remember seeing them on the bookshelf at Nain and Taid’s. Lois... Esyllt... Y Dryslwyn... but the most famous of all is Luned Bengoch.
Yes, T. Llew Jones is more well-known, having written at length about the wild coast of Ceredigion, but Elizabeth Watkin-Jones has also succeeded in weaving adventure, romance and danger on the northern coast of the Llŷn. All this is encapsulated on the cover of this new edition by artist Efa Blosse-Mason – it looks like a poster for an epic film. And believe me, this is an epic story that young people and adults will enjoy.
We are in the year 1401, and the period is significant because we are in the early years of Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion. It’s pleasing to read a novel that is not afraid to show its nationalist colours. In addition to the characters who are loyal to Glyndŵr and the case for independence for Wales, despite this being a historical novel it feels extremely timely as the case for independence has come to the forefront in recent years.
But what about the novel's characters?
Luned is a strong, adventurous girl and she doesn't let the fact that she’s a girl limit her at all, as it would surely have done in that time. She’s determined to follow her friend, Rhys on a journey to present a message to Owain Glyndŵr at his camp in Pumlumon, by pretending to be a boy. But on the journey, she comes to the attention of several people, and not even her cap can hide those flaming red curls, or those famous features that were known to belong to the Caradog ab Merfyn Goch family of the Conwy valley. Why is there a danger at Plas Crafnant? And just who is Luned Bengoch?
This is the third time that the novel has been printed. First published in 1946, then the author's nephew, Hugh D. Jones updated the text for a new edition in 1983. I really hope that today's young people will continue to immerse themselves in this adventure.
Join Luned and Rhys on their journey, from the rocky shores of Nant Gwrtheyrn, to the slopes of the Pumlumon mountains and on to the Conwy Valley.
This novel truly belongs in this ‘best of the best’ collection - not many stories are told in this way today. Luned Bengoch is a classic for sure.