#BlogTour #BookReview The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis @Honno

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I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis, translated from the Welsh by Gwen Davies. My thanks to Julia Forster for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Honno Press for my advance review copy.


the jeweller coverAbout the Book

Mari supplements her modest trade as a market stall holder with the wares she acquires from clearing the houses of the dead. She lives alone in a tiny cottage by the shore, apart from a monkey that she keeps in a cage, surrounding herself with the lives of others, combing through letters she has gleaned, putting up photographs of strangers on her small mantelpiece.

But Mari is looking for something beyond saleable goods for her stall.  As she works on cutting a perfect emerald, she inches closer to a discovery that will transform her life and throw her relationships with old friends into relief. To move forward she must shed her life of things past and start again. How she does so is both surprising and shocking…

Praise for The Jeweller

A moving, quirky, and gorgeously written meditation on the haunting afterlife of the objects we leave behind. There is a lapidary beauty hidden in almost every sentence.” Tristan Hughes

Format: Paperback, ebook (208 pp)         Publisher: Honno Press
Publication date: 19th September 2019 Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk | Hive (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Jeweller on Goodreads


My Review

Mari lives alone in a remote cottage by the sea with only her cat and a rather needy and temperamental pet monkey for company.   The latter has the same love of trinkets as Mari. The ‘clutter’ that fills the cottage is the vintage clothing and jewellery gleaned from house clearances or bought at auction that Mari sells on her market stall, along with the letters and photographs she obsessively collects containing the stories of other people’s lives.

From the beginning, I was struck by the author’s imaginative and descriptive writing about landscape and nature, skilfully preserved in Gwen Davies’ translation.

‘The sea was breathing in the distance, dark against the growing light, and seagulls were being flung across the air like litter.’

‘Catkins of pussy willow and hazel caught the light like earrings: grey-silver droplets and knuckles of pale gold that twisted on an updraught.’

I particularly liked the way that inanimate objects become animate in Mari’s eyes. So a beech tree is described as ‘flirting its little fans of beaten neon-green at her’ or freshly laundered vintage clothes destined for her stall are ‘alive on the line as though their new owners were dancing in them right now‘.  Mari even sees the jewels she collects and works with as having a life and personality of their own. At one point, she refers to some jewels as ‘giving her a hard time’.

Unfolding over the course of a year, the reader witnesses Mari’s physical and mental struggles, especially when the future of the market where she has her stall is placed in jeopardy. As summer turns to stormy autumn, things grow darker, events from earlier in Mari’s life are revealed and the reader begins to understand the complex nature of her past relationships.  There is closure of a sort but also a sense of history repeating itself.

The Jeweller is a slim novel but beautifully written.  It’s a book which packs a lot into a small space.

In three words: Lyrical, evocative, intense

Try something similar: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

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Caryl_Lewis_Photo_Credit_Keith_MorrisAbout the Author

Caryl Lewis has published eleven Welsh-language books for adults, three novels for young adults and thirteen children’s books. Her novel Martha, Jac a Sianco (Y Lolfa, 2004), won Wales Book of the Year in 2005. Caryl wrote the script for a film based on Martha, Jac a Sianco, which won the Atlantis Prize at the 2009 Moondance Festival. Her television credits include adapting Welsh-language scripts for the acclaimed crime series Y Gwyll / Hinterland. (Photo credit: Keith Morris)

GWEN Davies Credit Jessica RabyAbout the Translator

Gwen Davies grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire. She has translated into English the Welsh-language novels of Caryl Lewis, published as Martha, Jack and Shanco (Parthian, 2007) and The Jeweller and is co-translator, with the author, of Robin Llywelyn’s novel, published as White Star by Parthian in 2003. She is the editor of Sing, Sorrow, Sorrow: Dark and Chilling Tales (Seren, 2010). Gwen has edited the literary journal, New Welsh Review, since 2011. She lives in Aberystwyth with her family. (Photo credit: Jessica Raby)

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3 thoughts on “#BlogTour #BookReview The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis @Honno

    1. Thanks. Would you like my proof copy? I don’t expect I’ll read it again – I rarely reread books anyway – and as it’s an uncorrected proof I can’t donate it to my local library. If so, send me your address (my email address is on my contact page or DM me on Twitter) and I’ll pop it in the post to you.

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