Lulu, $16.98, ISBN 978-1-4303-0524-8
Historical Fiction, 2007
Storyteller is a collection of short stories. It’s a conceptual collection, with these stories being presented as tales told by a Welsh bard in the Middle Ages named Gwernin. These stories are, as he claims, accounts of his adventures as he traveled around Wales with a companion named Ieuan as he hoped to make a name for himself as a bard. From his encounter with a mysterious wise bard Emrys to a brief and disastrous – if amusing – detour into gold-hunting to his meeting the great poet Taliesin, Storyteller follows Gwernin in his education from some of the masters of the craft. Along the way, Gwernin also plies his trade, telling stories of the High King Arthur and other characters deeply ingrained in British folklore and legends.
I have to say, at first I am afraid that this could turn out to be another one of those self-consciously opaque books where the author delights in making sure that as few readers as possible can understand the story. However, to my relief and later delight, this one is simply yet elegantly written. Ms Grove’s writing is graceful without being too flowery or opaque. She brings to life the sights and sounds in her story with such apparent ease that if I’m being whimsical, I’d say that it is as if I’m transported into this story as a member of the rapt audience in Gwernin’s storytelling sessions.
The stories are sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet, and even romantic as Gwernin finds love later in the book, but they are never dull. The way Ms Grove easily transports me into Gwernin’s world makes the reading of Storyteller a most fascinating and enjoyable experience and I can only be dismayed when I reach the end of the book because I want more.