Martha, Jac a Sianco

Martha, Jac a Sianco
(Martha, Jack and Shanco)

Bound together by blood ties, Martha, Jac and Sianco live on a farm in mid-Wales where their lives unfold in the eerie half-presence of their dead parents. Glimmers of understanding punctuate their relationship with one another, but unspoken animosity seem to be the most potent ingredient in their sibling cohabitation. Tension between the three underscores their empathy each with the rhythms of nature rather than with kith and kin. Sianco, despite his mature years, has a childlike simplicity about him which endears him to the reader, but he is bullied by his older brother, Jack, whilst his older sister, Martha, is more protective of him. All three are unmarried, although Martha does have a potential suitor, and Jac has a manipulative mistress who may prove to be his downfall. Primeval in setting and content, Martha, Jac a Sianco is a book where the land itself, the beasts of the farm, and the raucous crows animate the narrative. The coldness of the climate, the dark, the harshness of country life: all are woven into the fabric of a raw and timeless story where the portrayal of the animal world is unflinching, and the human beast plods on relentlessly towards what seems the inevitability of the tragic end. Yet there are occasional glimpses of humour, and, despite the contemporary Welsh setting, this is a novel proper to many recesses in Europe, and beyond, whether today or in times past.

Winner of Welsh Book of the Year 2005.

Caryl Lewis


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Publication details:

Martha, Jac a Sianco
Y Lolfa (2004)



Translation rights:

Anwen Hooson
Bird Literary Agency