Wednesday 18 October 2023

The Rituals by Rebecca Roberts BLOG TOUR #TheRituals #RebeccaRoberts @honno @RandomTTours #BookReview


Gwawr, secular celebrant, single and in her thirties, knows all too well how life can change in an instant. Well practiced at keeping her composure, she keeps on smiling, even though her own life is falling apart behind the scenes. A victim of online sabotage, an unknown perpetrator is trying to destroy Gwawr and her business. Prone to unwise relationships, we follow her as she becomes hopelessly embroiled with an attractive client, thwarts the advances of another, and tries to survive as her business dries up and her money runs out. All while finding a way to acknowledge her own, very private, grief.

This is a tale of friendship, love, unbearable loss and how we overcome the dark depths to find the light again. We all carry secrets and sometimes only solidarity and the trust of another will unlock them.

A heartfelt novel exploring what it means to be human when we are at our most vulnerable.

The Rituals by Rebecca Roberts was published on 28 September 2023 by Honno Welsh Women's Press. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

I am delighted that Rebecca Roberts has published this wonderful novel in English. I don't speak Welsh, and if she and the publisher, Honno, had not made the decision to publish in English, I would have missed such a treat.

The Rituals is Gwawr's story. She's a Welsh, secular celebrant. Working freelance, conducting marriages, naming ceremonies and funerals. Single and in her late thirties, Gwawr is a complex character. The author cleverly and slowly, builds the character, exposing her flaws, revealing her humour and allowing the reader to become aware of her innermost thoughts and feelings. 

The opening paragraph of this book really resonated with me. I have read it multiple times, and it really feels as though it were written just for me. Having lost two people over the past few years who were so dear to me; my Mum, who was eighty, and my forty-seven year old best friend, Rebecca Roberts' words in that first paragraph were perfect. I have grieved so differently for those two special women, and those few lines, written at the start of a fiction story have helped me to understand my own mixed reactions. 

Back to the book!  It's a beautifully written story that not only follows Gwawr and her career. It also lays bare the effects of grief on various people and who someone like Gwawr, who has her own burden to carry can offer help, guidance and support, whilst also going through a healing process herself. 

It is certainly not all doom and gloom. There's a lot of humour in this book, there are happy and exciting events, not just funerals, and there's a touch of mystery throughout too as Gwawr's business is threatened by some mean and nasty tricks played on her. 

Gwawr's vulnerability is exposed throughout. Her decision making could sometimes be questioned, but always understood. It's a story of hope and about humankind and friendship and community. It's a novel of lasting love, about being betrayed and about loss.

Wonderful, and highly recommended by me. 

Rebecca Roberts has worked as a teacher, development officer and translator. 
She grew up near the sea in Prestatyn and still lives there with her husband and two children. 
She writes in Welsh and English, and is the author of seven novels. 
She won the Children and Young People category in the Book of the Year Award 2021 and the Tir na n-Óg Award 2021 with her first novel for young people, #Helynt. 
This is her first English language novel with Honno Press.

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