The Life of Rebecca Jones
This slim volume was originally published in Welsh to great acclaim. Rebecca Jones looks back in old age to her long life on a remote farm in Snowdonia. Three of her brothers were born blind. Their parents sacrificed much to pay for their schooling in England. Although this enabled them to lead fulfilled lives, it came with a heavy price because it severed their connection with their Welsh heritage. Not only that, but Rebecca and her sighted brother Bob had to leave school at twelve, although both would have also benefited from further education. Bob wanted to train as a doctor but had to remain working the land. Rebecca helped about the farm, cared for her younger siblings, and later for her nieces and nephews, and took in sewing. What is most remarkable about this book is this resilience of the whole family in the face of misfortune upon misfortune. They never show their bitterness. They just get on with life, working hard with an unwavering Christian faith.
It reads like a memoir — the author is closely related to this family — but it is actually a novel. I can’t say why, because to do so would destroy the central premise. I defy anyone to read it and not be moved. It is like nothing I’ve ever read before. I put the book down feeling different about myself and the world. My only regret is that I couldn’t enjoy it in its original language. Highly recommended for those who like their reading to be both quiet and deeply felt.