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Circaidy Gregory Review of Small Press and Indie Books
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Gregory Press, 45
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Brothers - a novel by Geraint
well as being a rattling good adventure, “Forest Brothers” is a story about
identity – personal identity and national identity – and is a story with a
soul. It is clear that the author himself has a deep interest in land of Estonia
and its history." -
from a review by S P Moss
ebook is also available through Hive stores, online stores for Europe
and the USA, or your national Amazon site.
How 'Forest Brothers'
the novel came to be
Author Geraint Roberts felt a connection with Estonia from the first
time he set foot in the country and, when he read a plaque on the medieval wall in Tallinn thanking the Royal Navy for their assistance in the Estonian War of Independence, it struck him that therein lay a history,
like the history of his native Wales, virtually unknown to most people in the UK. He decided it was time to tell the story
of Estonia to the British people. All he had to do then was dream up a Welsh character who could have been involved in this episode,
one who might have been in Estonia during the Second World War. Huw Williams is the result – an original and unforgettable character who becomes a Forest Brother and an honorary Estonian as a result of the friendships he forges there.
As a native Welshman, Geraint comments on the shared experience of growing up in a small country with noisier neighbours by introducing Huw, the lead character in Forest Brothers, as a Welshman abroad, constantly being mistaken for an Englishman by people who barely know that Wales exists. Geraint did not need to imagine an Estonian atmosphere while he was writing. His wife and daughter are Estonian, so he is immersed in the culture and language on a daily basis.
||If you would like to visualise the
characters from 'Forest Brothers', here's a clue: in an imaginary casting session, Geraint chose Ioan Grufydd and Märt Avandi to play the brothers-in-arms Huw and Märt, and Mirtel Pohla to bring out the feisty character of
Maarja, Huw's Estonian partner.
do you go about plotting your novels?
clip and author-photo top left by Rod Duncan
declaims to a congregation long departed at the ruins
of Valle Crucis
Abbey in Llantysilio, Denbighshire, Wales.
World War II drama set in a land the UK forgot
December 1918: The royal navy sends a squadron of ships to the fledgling
Estonian nation to aid their fight for independence. When the squadron is
due to depart, a young navy officer jumps ship, sacrificing his career for
the love of a woman - but the navy reclaims its own. Huw Williams is dragged
back to his homeland in disgrace.
Years later, the world is at war again. Huw is scratching a living on the
docks when the past comes to call. He is flung into covert operations in a
land caught between two armies, and a people living under threat of instant death or deportation to oblivion in Siberia. Huw soon finds out
that killers are on his track.
He joins the Forest Brothers, the partisans living secretly amongst the silver birches of Estonia. There, ghosts of his past life emerge. This is
not the return to romantic dreams he had imagined. Nevertheless, an old flame rekindles, and the once embittered Huw rediscovers his desire to
help save the country and the people he loves - but how can he do either,
forced to live as a fugitive in the forest?
+ £2.75 p&p to UK
+ £5 p&p to Europe
£7.49 + £8 p&p outside Europe
Forest Brothers cover art is a watercolour painted by Rita Roberts, inspired by a photograph taken by Kalli Piht of the silver birches on the
island of Naissaar, a short boat ride from Tallinn
|Geraint says: I first visited Estonia twelve years ago. It was February, minus twenty and the snow was heavy on the ground. The wind was so bitter as to make it painful to look out to the Baltic Sea. The capital felt deserted as I toured the old town with my future wife, moving from warm café to warm café to restore feeling to my extremities. There was ice on the inside of the bus windows, and sleigh rides were available at the local museum but rather than admiring the view, passengers would be tempted to hide under the horse-blankets to keep warm. No doubt it was the extreme cold that kept tourists away at that season but I felt privileged to have such a gem of a city to myself, to appreciate the beauty of the medieval Old Town in its winter
Since that time, I have visited Estonia on a regular basis, albeit at times when the country is at least forty degrees warmer. I have been enchanted by the medieval fortresses and long stretches of woodland. I have strolled the rugged northern shores and
the long sandy beaches around the summer capital. I have enjoyed the tranquil islands and watched meteor showers
from the forest glades. I have eaten blood sausage with black bread and washed it down with cold Estonian beer or Poltsamaa wine. I have delighted at the spectacle that is Leigo. Indeed, the bulk of the novel was written in the forest near Märjamaa (admittedly with one leg in plaster up on a chair).
I wanted this novel to do two things: to revive
awareness of an event long forgotten in the UK and to explore the links
between the countries that were there long ago. In one sense, the goal
has been achieved in that my life and family have been a renewal of
those links. The Estonians I have been privileged to befriend are
initially reserved, but warm and independent in thought. As I go about my life in Mid Wales, watching my Estonian wife and daughter, seeing their pride in the language and culture of the land of their birth, I cannot but see the many parallels
between the psyche of this small nation and that of my Welsh homeland. It makes me feel at home, it makes me feel part of the land.
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