Past and present intertwine in the thoughts of Mari Jones as she prepares to give birth to her third child on a stormy night in February 1899. During a long, difficult night, the tension between the father and the midwife intensifies, while outside wind and rain lash the tiny cottage. As her labour progresses, Mari reflects on her own mother's death in childbirth, on her formative relationships with her father and her mentor Mrs Rowlands, from whom she acquired her knowledge of plant lore. The forms, colours and scents of flowers and plants, their symbolism and medicinal value are integral to Mari's story, the lyrical, quietly reflective narrative style belying and balancing the dramatic events. When Mari's baby, the longed-for son, is finally born weak and distorted, she finds the strength to resist her husband's command to let him die, rejecting her husband in choosing her son.
This moving, richly-textured short novel by Eisteddfod-prizewinning author Jerry Hunter, sensitively addresses the superstitions of a traditional, rural society. Gwreiddyn Chwerw celebrates a woman's courage in nurturing her disabled child in the face of prejudice and bullying, helping him to achieve his full potential against all odds.