A Drefach Felindre writer known mostly for her poetry has released her first memoir.
Simone Mansell Broome, whose family run the Ceridwen Centre and Welsh Green Weddings, has also branched out into children’s fiction and non-fiction for adults in the past few years and now, Cambria Publishing in Carmarthenshire has published memoir, Falafels, some frogs and a ferret.
At around 28,000 words long, the 21 chapters of this intimate, personal, novella-length memoir are packed full of impressions, anecdotes, stories and observations ranging from the seemingly slight and inconsequential to the deeply serious, to the real sadness and challenges underpinning and punctuating an ‘ordinary’ life.
The child is mother to the woman and the foibles, prejudices and frailties of one generation will surface, inevitably, in the next.
Simone was born in Tenby, grandchild to tenant farmers in Begelly, Pembrokeshire, first child of a man with a troubled relationship to his homeland and a hard-working, dynamic, intensely emotional Englishwoman.
The memoir dips in and out of the Tenby of Simone’s infancy and early childhood, a later childhood over the border, a turbulent adolescence and onwards into early motherhood.
“This is not a purely chronological account,” Simone explains.
“It does not wear its heart on its sleeve or dwell self-indulgently on the bad times.”
This is a series of surprising, mundane, moving and sympathetic vignettes of family life, of an education in school and in love, which see-saws like the playground and fairground rides she recalls from fun to fear, from sunshine to storms.
The chapters are linked by the letter ‘f’.
Simone explains: “It’s a device to corral and make sense of a large database of life experience; it allows for switches in mood and style, for the reader to sample stories, memories, observations.
“Even at her most light-hearted moments, she is perceptive, empathetic. Even when quite dark episodes are alluded to, humour isn’t very far away.
“A couple of the chapters and the revelations therein could startle or trouble the easily startled or easily troubled. All will strike a chord, whatever reminiscence the author is sharing.”