David West’s A Long Time Coming: Snapshots of Life in the South Wales Valleys is a wonderful collection of stories, accompanied by photographs, showing all sides of the author as well as that of his setting: the South Wales Valleys. The book is a collection of short stories influenced by David’s life in the historical town of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales; he deftly takes the reader through situations and stories, historical and current, from the isolation of a single parent to the perils of DIY.
While the narrative does have a strong Welsh influence, the themes of loneliness, betrayal and hope are universal parts of being human and David approaches them with great believability and a light touch of humour. Each story is accompanied by charming photographs showing both the beauty of the South Wales Valleys and the themes explored.
What really brings this collection to life is the strength of the narrative voice that depicts perfectly and unerringly the fear, shame and love felt by the characters. No reader could fail to identify with the troubles that face them, or to be cheered by the lighter stories interspersed between the more poignant material.