A historical novel set in Pen Llyn, Oxford and mainland Europe during the Second World War.
Os Dianc Rhai
Os Dianc Rhai (Should Some Escape) is the sweeping saga of an aristocratic family in north Wales in the 1930s. The story centres on Hugh Elgon-Hughes, heir to the Plas y Morfa Estate. Hugh is a student at Oxford, and has been brought up to admire things English, but he longs to learn Welsh and reclaim his lost heritage, a task he sets about with purpose and intent. Elsewhere, the clouds of fascism are gathering, and Ilse Meyer, a young Jewish refugee, becomes the focus of Hugh's life. The couple visit the Elgon-Hughes home on the Llyn peninsula in north Wales, but the neglected estate and dysfunctional family rob them of the simple romance they desire. Restless and confused, Hugh oscillates between nationalism, socialism and self-pity. Ilse, having fled Germany and lost hope of being reunited with her family, finds herself estranged from her young man, and when his brother Peter, a member of the British Fascist Union, makes advances to her, she seeks refuge among the Jewish community, leaving Hugh no word of her whereabouts. Others whose paths Hugh crosses in Martin Davis' masterly chronicle of a turbulent decade are communist Alun Litherland from south Wales, degenerate professor James Ledbury, and German Karl Hagelstange who leaves England to join the Hitler Youth. Woven into the fabric of the book is the famous trial of the three Welsh nationalists who set fire to a Bombing School in Llyn in 1933. Were the actions of these men irresponsible and unpatriotic, or were they the expression of a laudable ideal and a victory for pacifism? Hugh struggles to find the answer to this and other questions. Yearning to be rid of the doubts and contradictions he has inherited, he joins the RAF only to meet with death over Hamburg during an air-raid some years later. None will mourn him more deeply than Ceinwen, a kitchen maid who taught him a little of the language of his ancestors and is the mother of his unborn child. The title of Martin Davis' second novel Os Dianc Rhai (Should Some Escape) is a quotation from Saunders Lewis (Ysgrifau Gwleidyddol Saunders Lewis, Gomer, 1985, p. 105), one of the three who set fire to the bombing school in Llyn. Lewis wrote: 'the main objective of these bombing raids shall be...to rain from the safety of the sky the most horrible of deaths on women children and unarmed defenceless men, and should some escape with their lives, to ensure that they shall have neither shelter nor food to sustain them nor a home to keep them alive...'
Cyfnewidfa Ln Cymru/Wales Literature Exchange
Publisher: Y Lolfa