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What is the best-known book set in Wales?

See note on methodology

I confess that I've looked at the answers to this question for a lot of European countries by now, preparing a number of these posts. There aren't many where the top book is as far ahead of the field - on both LibraryThing and Goodreads - as it is in this case. And there are even fewer cases where it's a book I simply hadn't heard of. But this is one of them. The most widely owned book by a long way (among both LibraryThing and Goodreads users) which is set in Wales is:

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Apparently it's a beautifully illustrated and spooky book for YA readers, published in 2011. It's also the most frequently tagged "Wales" by Goodreads users, and third on LibraryThing.

The two books most frequently tagged as "Wales" by LibraryThing users are:

The Mabinogion (Librarything)
Here be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman (Goodreads, second on LibraryThing)

I am of course familiar with the first of these. The second is the opening novel of a historical fiction trilogy, which has clearly done well while passing me by.

Fourth place in LibraryThing tags, and second on Goodreads tags, is the one I would have immediately thought of:

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Bubbling under, Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (second most popular "Wales"-tagged book on Goodreads), The Grey King and Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper, Among Others by Jo Walton, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander - not all of which are entirely or exactly set in Wales.

Sorry, Dylan Thomas. You didn't quite make it to the top. (Nor did Torchwood.)


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 30th, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC)
Miss Peregrine is one of my daughter's favourite books.

I would have had some of Edith Pargeter's fine historical novels, particularly the Heaven Tree trilogy, and the Brothers of Gwynedd. She also wrote the Brother Cadfael books under the pseudonym Ellis Peters.
Jan. 30th, 2015 08:02 pm (UTC)
the Cadfael books are mostly set in Shrewsbury, but Cadfael is Welsh...
Jan. 30th, 2015 09:41 pm (UTC)
I didn't mean to place the Cadfael books in Wales, just to mention the link to the better- known pseudonym.
Jan. 30th, 2015 07:23 pm (UTC)
My first thought was Alan Garner - and then I realised I wasnt quite sure if they are Wales or not! How far is LibraryYhing tagging accurate do you think! ( cf Hogwarts)
Jan. 30th, 2015 08:02 pm (UTC)
I've got a copy of Miss Peregrine languishing on the to-read pile at home, so I can only comment that it is beautiful to look at.
Feb. 1st, 2015 05:59 pm (UTC)
It is one of those books that is better looked at than read.
Jan. 30th, 2015 08:16 pm (UTC)
I named the Susan Cooper sequence in a previous comment, and Among Others came up as my next thought. Carrie's War ought to appear somewhere in the list too, surely?
Jan. 30th, 2015 08:18 pm (UTC)
I adored The Mabinogian.

As with Scotland, I highly recommend H. V. Morton's travel books. His In Search of Wales shows how quickly Welsh culture changed in the 20th century once radio and television brought the dominant English culture into every house.
Jan. 31st, 2015 02:48 am (UTC)
I immediately thought of "How Green Was my Valley". I'm really surprised it's not 1 or 2.
Jan. 31st, 2015 11:22 pm (UTC)
#1 should be the Book of Jonah.


*runs and hides*
Feb. 1st, 2015 04:35 am (UTC)
You can get yer coat!

(Anyway, I personally pronounce them differently.)
Jan. 31st, 2015 09:01 am (UTC)
I thought of A Child's Christmas in Wales but then I'm not sure that counts as a book, per se, and also I was semi-asleep so thinking of titles that included Wales rather than anything else.
Jan. 31st, 2015 05:03 pm (UTC)
How Green Was My Valley and Under Milkwood were the ones that first came to mind for me.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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