The Calling of the Raven is the sequel to the acclaimed novel, Leap the Wild Water, and continues Megan’s quest for acceptance, autonomy, and unconditional love. Megan is resolved to tell Eli of the affair she had before they married and of her illegitimate daughter, Fortune, which her brother, Morgan, and Mam stole from her to save the family from shame. Before Megan has a chance to tell Eli, her plans are scuppered by a chance meeting with her old lover; the ne’er-do-well, Iago. Megan’s life again takes a turn for the worse and there seems to be no mending the damage Iago has caused.
This is the incredible sequel to Leap The Wild Water. I loved the first book and this one is just as compelling and moving. Megan, keeping her secret, has married Eli Jenkins but decides to tell him after Morgan brings Fortune home. Before she can say anything Eli finds out in worst possible way. His fury knows no bounds and Megan doesn’t recognise the man she married. The housekeeper, Gwen, hands in her notice leaving Megan to manage the farm alone. Megan’s life becomes a terrible ordeal as she is subjected to cruel taunts and torment by Eli and the new dairy maid, Branwen. By their behaviour towards each other it’s obvious to Megan that Eli and Branwen are not strangers.
Eli has not the inclination, or indeed intention, to forgive Megan for what he considers her betrayal and sets out to control and inflict upon her as much mental and emotional abuse as possible. The lengths Eli, aided and abetted by Branwen, go to result in Megan doubting her own sanity and eventually place her in a very dangerous situation.
Men it is who own the chains that bind us; men it is who dictate the rules we must abide by.While we are married to them, they are our only shelter and our sustenance; we cannot survive without their will for they own all there is, even our own selves. Megan does not realise this yet, I fear; that she is as much her husband’s possession as the stolen money in her purse and the dog that lies at her feet. He can do as he pleases with the both of them for they belong to him.
That chilling passage encompasses the subjugation women have, and sometimes still do suffer. And not only from their husbands as becomes abundantly clear. The message is enduring and powerful, woven into the story so well.
The narrative comes alive with Jenny Lloyd’s wonderful way with words and the total sense of place and time is evident throughout the book. Beautiful and descriptive passages of the Welsh countryside. The story unfolds from the perspective of Megan and the other main protagonists, all in the first person, and each with a distinct voice. In this way the feelings, fears and hopes are laid bare. Morgan, wanting to do what’s right but always seeming to get it wrong. Beulah, waiting for Morgan to see her as more than the housekeeper. Myfanwy, who was Megan’s friend but can Megan rely on her in desperate times. And Dafydd, caring, watchful and sympathetic to Megan. All wonderful characters with their own troubles and worries.
The Wild Water awaits if all else fails, but Megan is made of sterner stuff despite the humiliation, hardship and vindictiveness she suffers. This story is full of emotion and passion, and I couldn’t help but be infuriated and horrified by the injustices towards women, which continue in one form or another, to this day.
The Calling of the Raven is moving, thought provoking and excellently written, vivid and well researched. It brings vividly to life a 19th century rural community with all the intrinsic behaviour and culture of the time.