Ruan Author:Bryher Bryher's historical novels have been acclamined by the foremost critics. In this her latest magical evocation of the past, she takes the reader into the sixth-century Britain, to Cornwall, the Scillys, Ireland, and Wales. Young Ruan, nephew of the Druid high priest is destined and prepared for the priesthood. Turbulent , avid for adventure, and ... more »restless for fulfillment, he feels caged in the monotonous schooling of the Celtic priests, and longs for the high seas. How he breaks free from the fetters of loyalty to tradition and family, and sets out at last on the quest for those distant islands which form and re-form in the dreams of every man, is both the plot and theme Ruan.
Flawlessly, Bryher re-creates the mood of time and place, and more important still, a way if living and believing. Ruan is a child of his time. The sights and sounds, the passions and trails of sixth century filter through his sensibility in prose of haunting beauty. With his eyes we see the throngs at the Cornish fair, and watch the solemn ritual of the Druids and the burial of the King on the mystery-enshrouded Islands of the Dead. With him we experience the winter camp of the mariners in Ireland. With him we flee for life through an Irish bog, in another of the many extraodinary scenes which the novel presents. One feels Bryher in the fullest command of a period that has fastcinated her since childhood, and whose setting in Cornwall and Scillys she has absorbed through her entire life. The heme itself is ageless: man's aspiration to be himself, and to escape to that kind of life which to him is freedom-the promise of the far isles.
The enthusiastic reception of Bryher's historical novels has made her cryptic name increasingly familiar both to critics and to her growing public. The name is hers legally as well as by adoption. Born in England near the nd of the last century as Winifred Ellerman, she later took the name Bryher from one of the Scilly Isles off Cornwall coast, from amdist the setting she portrays so magnificently in Ruan. Her life has been devoted to literature, the arts, and archaeological studies, and her novels, Beowulf, The Fourteenth of October, Gate to the Sea, The Player's Boy, and Roman Wall, have earned for her a distinguished reputation as one of the finest writers of our time.« less