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Twenty Thousand Saints

by Fflur Dafydd

Having finished this smart, thoughtful novel, I felt homesick for a place I have never visited. Liltingly poetic, the story slips fluidly between strange bedfellows, all insightfully portrayed against the evocative backdrop of Bardsey Island - a character itself. Through excavations that are both real and metaphorical, this unlikely cast contemplate love, language and identity, delving into long hidden secrets to uncover many-layered truths.

Extract

Living on Bardsey was somehow to live on the brink of things, but with a sense that there was something, or someone there, tenderly pushing back her toes from the precipice. There was always something bursting out of the place these days for her, flowers spilling over one another to be noticed, lichen sprouting its soft regalia along the stone walls, Manx Shearwaters racing out of their round-homes, and her among them, breathing quietly. And it wasn't just what was around her that made it such a sanctuary, but the sea, a mainland unto itself. She still gazed at it with wonder every morning. Each night, she let it soothe her, praying in gratitude for its boundless mass which somehow spelled at once freedom and incarceration. The tide-race around her pulsed with life, but she knew that true power was here on this earth, blessed beneath her feet.

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