Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2012 (Fiction category)
It is 1880 and life in the south Wales village of Pantglas (population 92) follows its usual course, its Welsh-speaking inhabitants going about their business of working, gossiping, poaching, squabbling, falling in love. But the lives of all of them – bullying poacher, disarmingly inquisitive schoolboys, suspected witch, clergyman’s hyper-respectable wife, failed preacher-poet or village prostitute – are about to change for ever.
Following the visit of an English surveyor, they learn that the local squire has agreed to sell all the land to the city corporation so that the valley can be dammed up to create a reservoir. Some of the villagers are initially incredulous, most are appalled at the impending loss of their homes and livelihoods, others hope that the plans may bring them material gain. As an alien English workforce is brought in to build the dam, reactions and relationships change, some villagers finding opportunities for work or for courting, whilst others are appalled at the reality of the imminent flooding of their village and the destruction of their deeply-rooted community with its history, language and traditions. Passions intensify, long-guarded secrets are revealed and hidden tensions break out into violence, even murder.
Award-winning novelist Mihangel Morgan weaves a gripping story around a memorable cast of characters, drawn with affectionate satire. But even at moments of high farce, the drowning of the fictional village constantly recalls not only painful memories of historical events in Wales but also the fate of disempowered and dispossessed communities everywhere.
'An inventive and lively writer who is going from strength to strength.'
'The dialogue and the language of the narrative is rich and a pleasure to read.'