"When her mother is taken ill, little Enid has to go to stay with posh relations the Erbins in their mansion. Her father is struggling to cope, and Enid finds herself having to rely on her native wit and mother's advice to survive Uncle Horace, Aunty Celia and above all their teenage son Geraint. This Arthurian tale, from celtic myth cycle the Mabinogion, is retold by Booker shortlisted author Trezza Azzopardi."
In this reworking of the Mabinogion story "Geraint, son of Erbin", Trezza Azzopardi turns the tale around - Geraint is relegated to a supporting role and 'the maiden' Enid takes centre stage; their journey is no longer through the dangerous countryside of Medieval Wales with villains lurking behind every tree, instead Enid makes a journey of emotional discovery following her mother's illness, and her special 'skill' has changed from speaking out to listening in.
Growing up in Splott, Cardiff, Enid is a seven year old girl who wants to become a spy. Told in the first person from Enid's point of view,
the story captures a child's-eye view of the adult world, full of mysteries and
miscomprehensions. She tries to make sense of the adult world and improve her 'spying' skills by listening in on conversations that the adults would rather keep from her, and which she then repeats without fully understanding. When her mother is taken ill, Enid is sent to live with rich relatives, the Erbins and their teenage son Geraint. Geraint has a whole set of rules and restrictions he expects her to follow - things she isn't to touch, lines of demarcation in his bedroom that she must not cross. Enid, true to her Mabinogion original, immediately disobeys him.
Despite not always being able to relate this back to the original story, I really enjoyed this. Azzopardi does an amazing job of seeing the world from a child's perspective and relaying it through a child's thoughts. It becomes a tale of coming to terms with grief and forging new relationships to replace the old. But it's not down-beat and gloomy - despite the underlying sadness, Enid's mix-ups and misunderstandings are often so very funny.
This is the last in Seren's series "New Tales from the Mabinogion" and although I haven't read all of them, links to those I have can be found here.
Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - Seren Books
Genre - adult literary fiction, folk tales
Buy The Tip of My Tongue: (and Some Other Weapons as Well) (New Stories from/Mabinogion) from Amazon