Friday 27 September 2013


Bought on Kindle for 99p


I bought this book when I first got my Kindle and downloaded several books that looked promising.  I'm interested in social history and the synopsis looked as if it would be worth reading.   It's a well-researched book about the problems faced by the first Welsh emigrés to Patagonia to set up a colony, a Utopian land where the Welsh language and way of life would be safeguarded, well away from the desperate conditions they lived in back in Wales.  I had heard of these Welsh colonists, so I added it to my list of 12 books for the Artful Reading Club.

The brave migrants were promised 'a place of meadows and tall trees' by their charismatic leader who claimed he had been to the area they were to settle in and seen the rich, fertile green fields and trees.  In fact they arrived, after a horrific journey by sea, at the cold Patagonian desert, which is the largest desert in all the Americas.

The fact that they were claiming land that belonged to the nomadic Tehuelche Indians and dispossessing them, just as they had been dispossessed, didn't seem to occur to them.  They had heard of the Indians and feared them and what they might do.

I found the book slow and monotonous, and was continually irritated by the way the settlers responded to their terrible hardships, and even after they realised time after time that they had been duped they still kept faith in their leader and struggled on.  Yes, it is historically accurate, but it made such miserable reading, I just felt as though a black mist descended on me every time I forced myself to go back to reading the book.  I would have given up except for it being one of my ARC choices.

The story alternates between the events as experienced by settler Silas and one of the Indians, a mystical Shaman who eventually helps them to survive just a little better, though the weather conditions they faced never changed.

All in all, I was glad I had only paid 99p for it, and would recommend you to avoid it unless you are Welsh and have Patagonian Welsh ancestors.


When it came to being inspired to create my artwork I was stumped, and I mean completely stumped.    Looking at the book cover, I feel even the cover artist had problems in deciding how to visually sum up the story.  There wasn't a character who had seemed real enough to me to 'see' them in drawing or painting terms.  The only character who seemed to have anything at all I could interpret was the ancient Indian shaman, Yelue, so here he is:

Yelue, the ancient Indian Shaman
Mixed Media - Jez
I found a very tiny and very blurred black and white photograph of an old Patagonian Indian 'on tinternet' and took my inspiration from that.  In the end he doesn't look much like the photograph, though I tried to show how wrinkly he was.  I'm not happy with him, and he looks as miserable as I felt when I had finished the book.

Here's my original drawing, which I was much more pleased with:

For October I really must choose one of my 'list' books that will be a little more interesting.  I think it will be 'The Drawing Book' by Sarah Simblet.  If I can't get interested in that there's no hope for me!


  1. Oh dear, I'm sorry you found the book a bit dull and depressing! You are a better woman than I am, I would have given it up for a lost cause half way through and picked a better book :) I do like your artwork though, I think you have captured his leathery, wrinkly face perfectly, and I really love the striped fabric at the bottom and how it drapes

  2. I can see, He is a shaman, of course he is. You painting is better than some photo, He is alive and mysterious in this painting.

  3. Even when a book is as depressing as the one you described for your September pick, you were still able to pull the art off with aplomb. Your sketch is AWESOME and your painting may not be to your liking, but I think it is wonderful. For someone who can't draw, this piece has SO much character. I only wish I could draw even a bit like you. So, take it from someone who can't draw, you make beautiful art. Even if I'd had no idea about the back story, it would still be a beautiful work of art.

    I'm sorry your book didn't appeal to you this month, so I'm looking forward to your next one.

  4. History can be such a pain in stories, at times. It's so difficult to feel good around characters who know they've been taken advantage of, but do nothing. You are so brave to have gone through the whole thing. I like the autumnal skin color of The Shaman. Wonderful!

    P.S. I just finished reading Silver Like Dust: One Family's Story of America's Japanese Internment by Kimi Cunningham Grant, and considering the topic, the book was fun, informative and even a bit uplifting. Not sure why I just shared this... It just feels right to do so ;-)

  5. oh nooes how disappointing that your book was such hardwork. Some do look very promising and then do not deliver at all. You did an awesome job of the artwork, he does look miserable, but you captured his wrinkly skin just great.

  6. Thanks for the honest review...I too would have given up so well done on finishing and I love the fact that even made miserable by the book you produced such great artwork.
    Hugs xx

  7. So late getting round to look this month, my daughters wedding in three weeks time is to blame I am afraid. Well done for finishing the book which was obviously a dull read. You did great work with that face though.
    Jen x


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