The Coward's Tale: A Novel

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Feb 28, 2012 - Fiction - 384 pages
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'My name is Laddy Merridew. I'm a cry-baby. I'm sorry.'
'And my name is Ianto Jenkins. I am a coward. And that's worse.'

Nine-year old Laddy Merridew, sent to live with the grandmother he barely knows, stumbles off the bus into a small Welsh mining town, where he begins an unlikely friendship with Ianto 'Passchendaele' Jenkins, the town beggar. Through Ianto, Laddy learns of the collapse decades earlier of the coal mine of Kindly Light: a disaster whose legacy has echoed down through the generations and shaped the lives of all who live in the shadow of the colliery, especially Ianto, the keeper of all their stories.

Thaddeus 'Icarus' Evans strives in vain to carve wooden feathers that will float; 'Half' Harris and Matty Harris have the same mother and yet have spent a lifetime ignoring each other; 'Baker' Bowen - despite carrying the name of his forebears - has never learned to bake, and James Little, the gas-meter emptier, digs in his allotment by moonlight, his pockets filled with the treasures of his neighbours. Along with the other men of the town and the women who mothered them, married them and mourned them, they are bound together by the shared tragedy of Kindly Light and by the mysterious figure of Ianto Jenkins.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Bookishhorseygal - LibraryThing

This is a story about Laddy Merridew, a young boy, who is sent to live with his grandmother while his parents are going through a messy divorce. Laddy stumbles off the bus into a small Welsh mining ... Read full review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

After two collections of stories published in England, Wales native Gebbie sets her first, deceptively loose-limbed novel in a Welsh mining town whose present-day residents remain imprinted by a long ... Read full review


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About the author (2012)

Vanessa has previously written two collections of short stories (published by Salt Publishers). She has also won numerous prizes for her short stories. An extract from The Coward's Tale won the Daily Telegraph Novel in a Year Competition. In addition, Vanessa has compiled a text book on the art of the short story (Short Circuit - published by Salt) which is now used by creative writing courses throughout the UK and elsewhere and which is endorsed by Bridport, Fish, The Asham Trust and the Frank O'Connor Award. Vanessa has read and performed workshops at numerous festivals, as well as being writer-in-residence at Stockholm University this year. Vanessa is Welsh but lives in Sussex.

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