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The Pig Tale

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by Angela Roberts


ISBN 0 86243 867 5
Y Lolfa, 2006
232pp, paperback
Retail price 6.95


This is the story of a girl who turns into a pig and what happens during and because of that. This is a story of divorce and the effect it has on the children. This is a happy, mad, fantasy with a particularly perky (and even a bit pinky) tone. This is a sad, worrying tale of misfortune to the young. This is an allegory.

The thing that carries this book through and makes it the enjoyable read that it is, is the afore-mentioned tone. Throughout, it is light and engaging; maintaining this tone even while what is happening to the rather strange cast of characters in the novel is not exactly good.

The book is decidedly Welsh, and transformations have always played a big part in Welsh tales. Turn to any page and you will find Cledwyn or Dafi Ellis or Bendigeidfran (this last being a dwarf – a seven foot dwarf!). Also the humour, and it is always presented with humour, strikes me as peculiarly Welsh in feeling in a typical self-deprecating way. But, make no doubt about it, Angela Roberts is very much in command of her material.

Now for my only real criticism of this book. I’m not really sure the idea, girl wishing herself a pig to spite her family, is enough to support a whole book. There were times when I felt it outstayed its welcome. It felt somewhat s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. In fact, I felt on occasion that this had started as an idea for a short story, but Ms Roberts liked her characters so much, she couldn’t put them down and remained juggling with them long after they should have been put to bed.

That is my only criticism however. And I get the feeling others might not share that feeling of mine. However, others might not like it for the reasons I did. There is a possibility that this could be considered a slightly nave way of tackling an important subject and it might be considered that allegory wasn’t suitable. I would completely disagree with that. Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator worked, Mel Brooks’ The Producers worked, using humour to highlight a difficult subject, and Angela Roberts The Pig Tale also works. I’m not saying it’s as good as those two examples, but good it is. Search it out. Give it to a girl of around 11-13; see what they think.

Open Book

Review by Chris Williams