Thursday, 7 January 2010

Honno Books - Dew on the grass (Lewis) and Travels with a Duchess (Gallie)

The day before I went on holiday, my packing was slightly compromised by the arrival of a parcel of three books from the Honno Press. Honno are a publisher devoted to the publication of Welsh women's writing; within that remit they have a "classics" series which, like Persephone books, or the Bloomsbury Group books, republishes "forgotten" Welsh classics. Honno books have been at the back of my mind for a while, so I was extremely grateful when they kindly offered to send me three books to read. (They also sent a catalogue, which made me realise that I'd be interested in some more of their modern books too, as well as forced me to create a wish-list of other items that I'd like to read!).

The first book I read was The dew on the grass by Eiluned Lewis. In some ways, this was like a Welsh Cider with Rosie - a charming, semi-autobiographical description of a rural childhood in Montgomeryshire at the beginning of the twentieth century seen through the eyes of nine year old Lucy. I found this utterly delightful, giving an insight into everyday life as well as describing other incidents, such as the day Lucy gets to spend by herself while the family is away - she enacts the plots of various books, and enlists her small baby sister into being a hostage! I had no familiarity with Wales at this time so found it really interesting to read.

I followed that almost immediately with Travels with a duchess by Menna Gallie. This was quite different! The blurb on the back sums up the story by asking "Just how much trouble can a Welsh Shirley Valentine get into on a foreign holiday?". The book is the tale of Innes Gibson. Her husband Mike's holiday has been postponed, so she decides to go on holiday - to Yugoslavia - alone. On arrival, she teams up with another lone female traveller, Joan, and the pair have a wonderful series of misadventures as they travel around the country. I thought it was hilarious and didn't know WHAT would happen next. Absolutely brilliant.
(Isn't it a wonderful cover by the way, illustrated with cut-out dolls?)

I am planning to read the third book Eunice Fleet by Lily Tobias at some point this week and shall write about it in due course. Suffice to say I am looking forward to reading very many more books published by Honno in 2010.

*edit* Honno books had a Christmas discount that was still on on 4/01/10 so I did buy myself four more classics...


  1. That second one sounds like such fun!

  2. I must tell my friend's mother about this! She's not just Welsh, she's VERY Welsh and all she talks about is How Green Was My Valley. This may get her on to something else.

  3. Eva - it was fun!

    Darlene - I am on the look out for more books by Lewis...I think one may have made it into my order.

  4. This is such a coincidence. I work in a bookstore in NYC and only yesterday a customer from London mentioned Honno Books to me. I had never heard of this publisher before and the customer recommended a book from their list entitled Dancing with Mr. Darcy which is evidently a book of stories based on Jane austen works. It is out of stock at Book Depository but I put myself on the waitlist.

  5. EllenB - thanks for popping in. I've heard of that one but haven't seen it yett - let me know what you think of it!

  6. I really like the sound of Travels With a Duchess, these seem like lovely books!


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