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Synopsis

Llon a Lleddf a Storïau Eraill (Happy and Sad and Other Stories), a selection of the short stories of Sara Maria Saunders (S.M.S.; 1864–1939). All the stories turn around the inhabitants of the imaginary villages of Llanestyn and Pentre Alun and also draw on the religious revivals in Llangeitho and its environs during 1858–9 and 1904–5. S.M.S., like her fictional characters, was the product of the ‘seiat’ (prayer meeting) and so her characters are perfectly equipped to discuss their faith and religious experiences in Biblical and psychological terms, and always to the rhythms of their rich Cardiganshire dialect. S.M.S. portrayed her characters with as much humour as tenderness, thus creating a literary community that appealed to an audience of her contemporaries. Indeed, Siôn the Cobbler and Benja Jones the Tailor were familiar names on religious hearths in Wales, and readers eagerly anticipated their latest antics – despite the opinion of many Methodists that reading fiction was a sin! In her stories S.M.S. not only matures as a committed evangelical, but as a feminist writer in the age of the ‘New Woman’. She broke new ground with her portrayal of women who were strong, responsible, and intelligent, and who kept a beady eye on the spiritual condition of chapelgoers and the wider community. The constant refrain of her fiction are the blessings that spring from prayer, freely available to the rural poor of both sexes in Cardiganshire. Theses stories will appeal to those who remember Sunday School and chapel as well as those who still attend religious services.

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