My Father’s Places by Aeronwy Thomas - review by Elspeth Barker

Elspeth Barker

Desperately Seeking Dylan

My Father’s Places


Constable & Robinson 218pp £14.99

Aeronwy Thomas was born in 1943 in London and died only recently, on 27 July this year. Her father Dylan was off in the pub and did not meet her for several days. Her older brother Llewelyn was living elsewhere with their mother Caitlin’s family in the New Forest. This memoir focuses on the three to four years spent continuously in the Boat House in Laugharne, a great stretch of time for a child. She was six when they moved there; she was ten, in her first term at boarding school, when her father died in horrible and unresolved confusion in New York. Towards the end of this book Aeronwy says, ‘writing about my father’s death was cathartic, though all my activity on his behalf, during most of my life, has been a form of reconciliation to his death’. The Laugharne years are the most vividly recollected period that she spent with both her parents. Brother Llewelyn, older by four years, remains a shadowy, menacing figure on his occasional visits from boarding school. He chucked her doll’s house over the cliff, making her consider how a person might go over. Baby Colm, born that first summer in Laugharne, was a cherub child whom Aeronwy adored, reluctantly. At his and her christening she took him from his pram and hid him among the gravestones. ‘Mother was sure she had brought him.’

This memoir is mostly about Caitlin, rampageous, unpredictable and violent, then suddenly ‘a golden sun beaming’. She wore fabulous clothes, cartwheeled, danced on the table, drank, and swam in the nude with Aeron, who wore voluminous navy knickers. She cooked great stews of the perpetual sort for Dylan’s

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend