Richard Llewellyn Essay - Critical Essays

Llewellyn, Richard (Pseudonym of Richard Llewellyn Lloyd)

Llewellyn, Richard (Pseudonym of Richard Llewellyn Lloyd) 1906–

Llewellyn is a Welsh novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, and journalist. His most famous novel, How Green Was My Valley, and his best-selling None But the Lonely Heart both became successful movies. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 53-56.)

Mr. Llewellyn … is a flagrant romantic, a writer who thinks, feels and records in the literary equivalent of Technicolor.

This is particularly glaring in his treatment of sex [in "Down Where the Moon Is Small"].

Then there is Mr. Llewellyn's way with language. He gives us what seems to be a transliteration of native Welsh speech-rhythms, syntax and idiom into English. How accurate he is I do not know—but the result is too often to make his characters unintentionally comic and at the best quaint. There is, as Dylan Thomas demonstrated in "Under Milk Wood," an inherent tendency in this kind of transliteration towards the comic.

There is also, as the author uses it, an inherent tendency towards sentimentality, expressed as an altogether too easy lyricism that I find particularly grating. As "How Green Was My Valley" showed, Mr. Llewellyn is a born writer. But the fact that a man is a born writer has nothing to do with the quality of what he writes. Long ago, Rebecca West coined the phrase, "tosh-horse," for a certain kind of sentimental novel. In "Down Where the Moon Is Small" Mr. Llewellyn rides his tosh-horse at a gallop. (p. 29)

Walter Allen, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1966 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), April 10, 1966.

Since the memorable, lilting How Green Was My Valley, the career of Richard Llewellyn has been checkered. He has tried to adapt his stylistic devices to different places and times, searching out the underlying rhythmic principle in each. [In The End of the Ring], he puts his hand to international intrigue, and it has proved a trap.

The prose is a stiff-upper-lip British (and it occurs to me that one emotion most readily expressed in that mode is embarrassment). Llewellyn seems unable to decide whether the book is to be a partial spoof in the manner of Ian Fleming, or whether his hero Edmund Trothe, is to follow in the serious Le Carré tradition….

The whole frame of the novel is thus too badly and obviously shaken for the reader to enjoy it either as an espionage tale or as a significant, even if unsuccessful, experiment by a writer one respects.

If I could, I would go back to the Valley. (p. 10)

Lucy Rosenthal, in Book World (© The Washington Post), July 21, 1968.

Those who thrilled, 36 years ago, to How Green Was My Valley will not want to pass up Green, Green My Valley Now. In this, the third sequel, Huw Morgan finally returns from Patagonia to his native mining valley in Wales: for, after all, as the old gaucho ballad has it, 'the scent of my fire is sweeter than the perfume of another man's woman'. Richard Llewellyn is an easy-going yarnster who attempts nothing fancy, wears his heart on the page, and knows well enough when to kill off a beautiful wife with an impressively obscure disease. It is an entirely amiable load of Welsh nuts, and it seems destined to sell by the sackful. (p. 600)

Julian Barnes, in New Statesman (© 1975 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), May 2, 1975.

I'm old enough to remember the publication of Mr Richard Llewellyn's first novel, How Green Was My Valley, which once and for all established him as a best-seller. A generation after, it is still alive—that is, it is still read—because Mr Llewellyn has the rare and precious gift of vitality. He can also draw characters, though with broad and garishly-coloured strokes, and construct a story, though his tendency is to melodrama.

Commendably, he has refused to be typed as a regional writer. He has always been willing to try something new, to take a risk. And that is why with his seventeenth novel [Green, Green My Valley Now] the vitality is still undimmed, that one has the feeling that he enjoyed writing it and will enjoy writing many more, that he will, in fact, enjoy writing until the day he dies. (p. 20)

No, it isn't great literature. You don't have to take it seriously. Mr Llewellyn simply wanted to tell the readers of the Huw Morgan series what happened in the end, and they will read it because they want to be entertained. And, dependably, they will be. (p. 21)

John Braine, in Books and Bookmen (© copyright John Braine 1975; reprinted with permission), July, 1975.

[In "Green, Green My Valley Now"] Richard Llewellyn has given Huw Morgan, the sole survivor of "How Green Was My Valley," a new lease on life and a fortune made in Patagonia, and relocated him in his Welsh birthplace. Everything has changed, except for Mr. Llewellyn's lyrical way of telling a story. Instead of the labor violence that killed his father, Huw runs into a plethora of complicated troubles that range from madness to murder….

But in the words of the wartime rallying cry: "Is he downhearted?" No! Although he is temporarily daunted when his young Argentinean wife dies of some mysterious parasitic disease. Llewellyn's belief in the value of life is strong enough to carry his hero through the vicissitudes of great wealth, on the wings of prose that is nearly poetic. (p. 42)

Martin Levin, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1975 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), September 14, 1975.