Monday, June 09, 2014

My review of 'The French Letter King' by Thea Horton

One novel you won't want to miss out on!!

When Tommy Horton arrived in the Industrial town of Merthyr Tydfil in 1900, little did he realise what lay in store for himself... 

A wheeler and dealer of his day, he set about to make his fortune, venturing into various deals, including pawn broking. After spending a period of time in prison, he eventually opened a rubber factory in the town to make ‘French Letters’, which as well as needed by the townsfolk, were in demand by the troops throughout the first and second world wars to combat sexual diseases.

Tom married and had an only son called, Ron. Both had a tempestuous relationship with one another, which is evident throughout this book. At times Tom could be controlling and manipulative toward his son, and Ron, although defiant on occasion, often buckled to the will of his father.

But the making of Ron is the love of a good woman called, Lorna.

This story is set against the back drop of the South Wales Valleys during a period in time when there was much hardship in the towns of Merthyr Tydfil, Tredegar and neighbouring valley towns.

This story will transport you back to an era when rationing came into force and black outs were the norm. Where families found it difficult to feed another mouth, so places like Tom’s rubber factory were a necessity. The women who worked there preferred to tell others they worked elsewhere. Indeed it was common place to tell people they worked at ‘The Butter Factory’. Such was the stigma of the day.

This is an excellent novel that not only brings to life the history and geography of Merthyr Tydfil during both world wars but weaved throughout it are two love stories: Tom’s relationship with his initially unappreciated wife and Ron’s relationship with Laura, the feisty ballroom dancer from Tredegar.

The characters in this novel leap out at you from off the page and this book will keep you reading long into the night. This is one novel you won’t want to miss out on!!

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