In this novel - part thriller, part dystopic vision of the future - an elderly widow, Nesta, finds her humdrum life disturbed when she becomes aware that an uninvited guest visits her bungalow at night or when she is out. Determined to investigate, one night she finds a man sleeping on the veranda at the back of the house: a soldier on the run who has been hiding in the dark woods abutting her back garden. Wary of each other at first, they gradually build up mutual trust, and a curious, interdependent friendship develops between them as bit by bit she draws out fragments of his story.
Despite the suspicions of her bossy daughter, Melissa, and of the intrusive police, and despite her own increasing frailty, Nesta takes increasing risks to maintain the soldier’s fragile security. Danger of discovery intensifies as the manipulative Melissa increasingly strives to control Nesta’s life, and we slowly become aware that the society in which they live, for all its surface of suburban normality, has become increasingly authoritarian, the rights and freedoms of individuals curtailed in the name of public security.
As in his previous novels, Aled Islwyn explores the personalities of those marginalised by society, his dark vision of humanity lightened by his characters’ ability to transcend their conventional roles and form unexpected and curiously beneficial relationships. Marrying a strong narrative with sensitive analysis of emotions and motivation, Milwr Bychan Nesta is memorable, moving and timely.
'The author has the ability to write poetically, to use words effectively, and to draw memorable comparisons.'