When William Powell and his headstrong wife Elizabeth inherit the glorious Nanteos estate in Cardiganshire, it seems their new life is everything they could wish for. Yet, as her debt-ridden husband is snared by the land disputes and violence of the 1750s lead wars, Elizabeth is increasingly drawn to the mysterious figure of Cai, the estate's handsome bailiff.
Superstition, tales of haunting, and the powerful Nanteos grail cast their shadow over the house and soon the family is caught up in a vicious political and legal battle that will end in tragedy.
"A Wonderfully gothic evocation of Wild Wales" - Robert Peston
"Dark, dramatic and visceral" - Deborah Kay Davies
"Jane Blank has done for West Wales what has been done before for South Wales – she tells the story of how the land and the people were exploited for profit. We've had 'How Green was my Valley' for South Wales, but I've never read anything about the lead mines in Mid-Wales at this period." - Deborah Kay Davies
"The Shadow of Nanteos is no soft-focus costume drama. There is a strong sense of social division between local Welsh workers and the anglicised middle-class and upper-class landowners and mine-owners. The central character, Elizabeth, although at first revelling in her new fortune and status, soon breaks the social rules both in relation to her servants and in what is expected of a gentlewoman. Although not unhappily married to William Powell, she becomes drawn to Cai, his clever, handsome bailiff and mine-manager. Cai's own status is ambiguous: related both to the Powell family and to Gruffydd, he is in some sense a truer heir to the land than William. Cai's interaction with Thomas, William's son, is crucial and well drawn. [...] The supporting characters, especially the women servants and the Powell children, are interesting and well-developed; the locations are vividly evoked, and the landscape has a part in the drama as it does in Hardy's novels. Despite some Gothic features, this novel has more raw realism in its sense of the physical and social pressures of the time and is all the stronger and more interesting for that. " - Caroline Clark, Gwales.com
"A fabulous novel. One of those titles that makes you read non-stop. This is a worthy follow up to Blank's 'The Geometry of Love'. She is one of the best Anglo-Welsh writers of the modern era. " - Amazon review
"An enthralling historical novel based on an actual house and estate in Ceredigion. First rate. " - Amazon reviewer
"historical background is carefully drawn, and the reader soon feels part of it. The writing is excellent, the author using a very simple and direct style, in the present tense, which gives immediacy to the story. I especially liked the main characters, which are very believable, and the dialogue ensures the story runs very quickly. Elizabeth, the heroine, is a very likeable young woman, and is very optimistic about her new life in the mansion and extremely determined to keep her family and the staff busy and productive so that the venture is a success. The story is an intensely personal one, and very emotional. It is an excellent read, and hopefully may make lots of people want to explore and spend some time in this very beautiful part of Wales. " - Amazon reviewer
"I have just finished the first chapter of 'The Shadow of Nanteos"'and am already drawn into it. Jane Blank is a gifted writer and her use of descriptive detail is fantastic." - Reviewer
"This is an outstanding novel, and certainly the Anglo-Welsh novel of the century. Jane Blank has created it in a remarkable depiction of a house that is in itself a personal character, affecting everyone that comes near her.
The reader will be absorbed by characters like the queen of the house, Elizabeth, and her complex relationship with the owner William Powell, and the enigmatic, handsome bailiff Cai. The tense action takes place during the exploitation of the lead mines of North Ceredigion in the mid-eighteenth century. Jane Blank's thorough and meticulous research has given us an evocative and atmospheric portrayal of cosmic proportions. This is an imaginative world of universal import. But it has been written with a subtle and light pen where the background becomes foreground, and we are carried along by the author's original energy. Combining the wondrous with the probable, her realism becomes ideal, and we have what Tolstoy called 'flesh in the ink-pot.'
I raise my hat to this inspired and grand narrative as it has revived my observation of Wales, and given me a masterly and elegant experience. Although few of us come to live in such a historic setting as Nanteos, I rejoice that the life-enhancing shadow of Nanteos will live in very many readers for a long long time." - Professor Bobi Jones
"An impressively presented and consistently compelling novel, "The Shadow of Nanteos" is a an inherently fascinating read that showcases author Jane Blank's exceptional storytelling skills. "The Shadows of Nanteos" is especially recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition the personal reading lists of anyone who appreciates a deftly crafted work of truly entertaining originality." - Wisconsin Bookwatch