Kate Roberts: Traed Mewn Cyffion (Feet in Chains)

The latest addition to my website is Kate RobertsTraed Mewn Cyffion (Feet in Chains). Kate Roberts was one of the foremost Welsh-language novelists and this is her first full-length novel. Like Roberts’ father, Ifan Gruffydd works in a slate quarry. At the beginning of the novel, in 1880, he has just married Jane. They will go on to have six children, three of each, but they will struggle. The slate quarries are in difficulty and the owners are eager to exploit the workers to the maximum, so that Ifan’s wages go down during the course of the book. Jane has to work hard, with no mod cons, struggles with her mother-in-law, has to help her two sons who go to college, deal with a difficult daughter and, eventually, see her children move away. The book ends in the middle of World War I, with one son already having joined up. During the thirty-five years of the book, Jane has few happy moments. Roberts shows us the grim life and struggles of the slate quarry workers of North Wales of the time, something she presumably had to put up with some degree herself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *