Author: Aeronwy Thomas

Publisher: New York: Skyhorse Publishing, c. 2009

ISBN: 978-1-61608-101-0

Click Here To Purchase My Father's Places: A Memoir by Dylan Thomas' Daughter

This memoir by the daughter of Dylan Thomas is written in a simple and straightforward style, telling of the many years that his family spent living in the Boat House in Langharne, thanks to Dylan’s patron, Margaret Taylor. As Aeronwy shares in her acknowledgements at the end of the book, the memoir took her ten years to write. As with all writing that appears to be fluid, flowing and effortless, much time has been spent on making this a seamless and unstrained work.

The text is amply supplied with photographs of the family, friends and surrounds, so that, along with the easy flow of the text, the reader is made to feel at home with all the characters inhabiting these pages. While Aeronwy mentions the names of many of her father’s famous visitors, and briefly mentions who they are, the major characters are those of the local pub landlord, Crossmouse (no wonder Dylan’s characters always sound so delightful...), their hearing and speech challenged neighbor, Booda (“a fixture in the kitchen”), and numerous childhood friends. After all, Aeronwy has no need to promote her father’s work, or to persuade us that his connections were the leading literati of the day – we (should at least) know all that already.

Instead, the focus of the book is on the childhood adventures of Aeronwy and her two brothers, Llewellyn and Colm. The gentle, self-deprecatory sense of humor which Aeronwy displays throughout these pages is clearly shown in the way in which she refers to her slight twinges of sibling rivalry: “To my disgust, he smiled most of the time unless he had a dirty nappy or was hungry and everyone loved him. He was hard to resist, though I was trying hard.”

Despite their home not always being a happy one, as Caitlin was much riled by Dylan’s dalliance with an American mistress, Pearl Kazin, whom he acquired on one of his numerous tours of the States, there was always a solid and loving home base to which he was able to return. Although Aeronwy does not hide the way in which her father died, she also does not dwell on the negatives. Indeed, many a reader will long to have come from just such a home. Despite their financial poverty (few writers are given their due merit in this lifetime, as we all know), which led Dylan to write many an importuning letter, to which Aeronwy refers, their home was spiritually rich and vibrant, surrounded by books and the wealth of imaginings. The text provides valuable insights into how Dylan wrote, literally being locked away for five hours each day by Caitlin (according to Aeronwy “as her contribution to his literary output”).  Aeronwy describes how, as soon as her father “spoke every word out loud. For him, the sound of the words was integral to the poem. Sometimes his voice was loud and booming, at other times I had to put my ear to the thin door to hear his mumbles. It seemed like a secretive, incantatory rite.”

My Father’s Places is, above all, about Dylan’s children and their childhood adventures, mainly spent at home and within the safe environs of Langharne village. For anyone who loves children, dogs (their constant companion is a half collie called Mably) and the sea, this book is a must. Even if you are not yet well acquainted with the poetic masterpieces of Dylan Thomas, after reading this heart-warming and refreshing memoir, you will most likely feel inclined to rush out and buy a copy – I urge you, do.

Click Here To Purchase My Father's Places: A Memoir by Dylan Thomas' Daughter