Rosie’s Review-A-Book Challenge #RRABC Historical Welsh Saga THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore @honno

Today’s review challenger is AJ Lyndon. AJ blogs here https://ajlyndon.wordpress.com/

AJ read The Covenant by Thorne Moore

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This historical saga, subtitled “The Life and Death of a Righteous Woman” is set in rural Wales in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a prequel to Moore’s first novel “A Time for Silence” and follows the lives of the Owen family, tenant farmers on a small piece of land “twenty-four acres, one rood, eight perches.”

The righteous woman is Leah Owen, daughter of Thomas Owen, “Tada”, a towering and uncompromising figure of biblical proportions whose relationship with the land he farms and his rigid attitudes to life and faith, dominate his family.

Leah herself is strong, patient and loving although she hides softer feelings beneath a rigid exterior born of duty and suffering. Her siblings gradually take different means of escape, leaving her with the responsibility of the farm and their father. Her younger brother Frank’s life is tainted from childhood because he is not their beloved older brother Tom, the lost heir to Cwmderwen. Gradually Frank himself becomes a malignant figure, struggling with an unwished-for destiny and the evil influence of his friend Eli John.

The other characters, Leah’s sisters, the rising man David George and the irritating but harmless Betty, contribute to the plot, providing a contrasting perspective and occasionally intervening in major events.

Each chapter is from a different time period as we follow Leah and the Owen family from the tragic prologue, back to their childhood and then forward, a few years at a time, from the 1880s until the 1920s. From the very start, we know that Leah’s life will not be a happy one. How the tragedy unfolds is gradually revealed as one after another the people she loves, those who might offer her support and save her, vanish from her sphere through fate, bad choices or the awful pressures of life on the Owen land.

If the prologue promises personal tragedy, it is Tom’s death aged 16 which seals it, shaping much of the ensuing succession of disappointments and disasters. My one criticism is that although we are told repeatedly that Tom’s early death changes his father’s character, the brief glimpses of Eden before the fall are insufficient to highlight the subsequent transformation.

The plot could not exist without the landscape, the harsh depiction of the Pembrokeshire countryside and claustrophobic village life reminiscent of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. But, undoubtedly, we are in Wales not England, surrounded by the grim “chapel” culture without the male voice choirs. A light sprinkling of Welsh phrases reinforces the place and the time.

Sometimes the next chapter in the unfolding cataclysm is clearly foreshadowed so that I was mouthing “No, don’t do it”. Alas, my warnings did not prevent a single murder, accident or drowning.

This is a well-constructed novel, beautiful but painful and raw, filled with the inevitability of an inescapable fate. If you enjoy books like Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Anna Karenina, you will love The Covenant.

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

The Covenant is the shocking prequel to the bestselling A Time For Silence.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Historical Family Saga THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore @honno

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading The Covenant by Thorne Moore.

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The Owen family are bound by covenant to hold a tenancy of 24 acres, 1 rood and 8 perches and Leah sacrifices years doing her duty to her family and a God, she eventually no longer believes in, to keep the land. The story of her life is a hard one with blow after blow being dealt as she is gradually worn down while, with a stoicism that’s hard to imagine, she has to watch another living the life she should have had.

What is clear throughout this book is the vast amount of research Moore must have done in order to settle this story so comfortably in its surroundings. I was completely absorbed by the setting and the characters that inhabited it.

Every character is wonderful but I thought Leah was exceptional and Moore’s portrayal of her extremely well done. What else can I say… the writing is superb, I did not want to put this book down and I urge anyone reading this to buy it now and start reading. I will definitely be enjoying A Time for Silence soon.

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

55033078. sy475

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE COVENANT by @ThorneMoore

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Covenant by Thorne Moore

The Covenant by [Thorne Moore]

The Covenant is a powerful novel which gobsmacked me with the fierce emotions of its characters and the immutable future of unending work and forced acceptance of their fate, by woman in the period of this story. This is a prequel to the author’s best-selling A Time for Silence, and is a must read.

Written in first person, the author has created in Leah Owen, the middle daughter of a farmer in Wales at the close of the 19th century, a woman burdened by both love and duty. Her father, Tom Owen, is a tenant farmer on twenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches of stony, hilly
land, and together with his oldest son, barely ekes out a subsistence for his family. The farm –Cwmderwen (and I wish I could pronounce it!) and its house are very real characters in the story, setting a grim, rundown background as the result of debt and poor harvest.

Leah has hopes. As the middle daughter, she will be able to marry and leave Cwmderwen to lead her own life. Her oldest sister, a strangely quiet and dour woman, will remain behind to care for her parents. When the oldest son Tom dies, largely because of the ignorance of his father, the father, always pious, becomes a religious zealot. He drives his lazy youngest son, Frank, away. When both the oldest and youngest daughter marry and her mother dies, Leah is left to take care of her increasingly maniacal father, even when love comes her way. She is forced to follow a path of servitude and disappointments to a grim future. Tom Owen’s grandson, John – son of the wastrel Frank – becomes a miniature of his grandfather, claiming his covenant with God in keeping the farm and determined to keep the increasingly unproductive farm.

Farmhouse, Derelict, Ireland, Nature, Field, Farm

What possible future does Leah have? Can she remain dutiful, even to Frank and her nephew, bound as she is by the community, her church and custom? And how can she survive when her every dream is crushed by her family.

The author does an impressive job creating a background of isolated and rural Pembrokeshire, the changing seasons and vicissitudes of farming. The detail never becomes heavy but is integral to the story. Her ability to create depth in her characters, their beliefs and piety, and the changes and occasional joys in their lives is exceptional. The reader lives in Leah’s being and the feelings are at times overwhelming.

This is a book with a wallop, and I recommend it as an exception read.

Book description

The Owens are tied to this Pembrokeshire land – no-one will part them from it.

Leah is tied to home and hearth by debts of love and duty – duty to her father, turned religious zealot after the tragic death of his eldest son, Tom; love for her wastrel younger brother Frank’s two motherless children. One of them will escape, the other will be doomed to follow in their grandfather’s footsteps.

At the close of the 19th century, Cwmderwen’stwenty-four acres, one rood and eight perches are hardwon, the holding run down over the years by debt and poor harvest. But they are all the Owens have and their rent is always paid on time. With Tom’s death a crack is opened up and into this chink in the fabric of the family step Jacob John and his wayward son Eli, always on the lookout for an opportunity.

Saving her family, good and bad, saving Cwmderwen, will change Leah forever and steal her dreams, perhaps even her life…

The Covenant is the shocking prequel to the bestselling A Time For Silence.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

The Covenant by [Thorne Moore]