Special thanks to Frank and Higgette at the Constant Reader forum who have encouraged me to write about what I read.
I happen to own a copy of this book thanks to my many visits to library book sales when I put random books in my bags. Since I end up paying less than a quarter for most books, I tend to grab anything that seems interesting. The resulting books get sold, swapped, given, or read, with many volumes going through various combinations of the aforementioned.
Since I didn't know anything about it and it wasn't worth anything to sell, I put this book on my work Book Exchange shelf where it has sat for a while. Looking through things last week, I picked up a couple of volumes that I realized might be a beneficial addition to my growing academic library.
Now that I know more about the book, I am glad that I made that decision.
The edition I have is a 2005 edition that Catrin Collier has put together for the Library of Wales. Apparently, this book was originally written in 1932 and was out of print for many years. The Library of Wales is working on preserving its cultural literature. http://www.libraryofwales.org/english/index.asp
Margiad Evans, born Peggy Whistler, lived on the borderlands of Wales and England. This particular work follows the character of Ann Goodman, a young country-woman who also lives in the borderlands. Written as a diary of her experiences (chronicles for the benefit of a jealous would-be fiancee), the novella allows the reader to experience the time and region through Ann's voice as well as the events she experiences.
A striking characteristic of Ann's voice is that everything is in the present tense - even when she is describing events that are past. The author mentions this in her introduction:
"It may seem remarkable that Ann in her writing makes use of only the present tense. It must be remembered that the entries were made over a space of months, and at teh beginning were intended to take the place of speech between her and her sweetheart. Her part of the world, for one reason or another, has preserved little dialect and fewer turns of speech, but teh custon of referring to past events as though they were at the moment occurring still survives, and doubtless would be even more prevalent in her day. To me this lends additional strength and vividness to her records, and at times even gives me the unconfortable feeling of listening at the keyhole" (5).
So far, from what I have read in the foreword, it is a novella and not a memoir. The use of the present tense may be irksome to other readers, but I quite enjoy the technique. I think that it brings an air of authenticity and makes her voice more alive.
"Gabriel gives me this book, telling me to write in it all I do, for him to see, until we shall be married. And when that will be I do not know, since I am to leave Twelve Poplars and look to my mother" (9).