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The tender Welsh love story that keeps selling out at a fruit and veg shop

17 Feb 2023 3 minute read
Copies of The Great Welsh Auntie Novel are flying off the shelf at a Treorchy

A beautifully written Welsh love story set in the Rhondda valley is flying off the shelves at a fruit and veg shop faster than any other retailer.

Copies of ‘The Great Welsh Auntie Novel’ by Rhondda-born author John Geraint are being snapped up from amongst the cauliflowers and carrots at the Green Valley zero-waste fruit and veg shop in Treorchy.

The tender exploration of first love by one of the UK’s most experienced documentary film-makers is set in 1970’s Rhondda and has proved popular with shoppers out for their weekly shop.

The greengrocer has now become the number one outlet for sales of the novel and owner Rhiannon Emmett said customers are buying copies faster than she can re-stock them.

Rhiannon said: “We’re always looking for new ways to attract customers and the whole idea behind the store is to offer shoppers something different.

“When we came across John’s novel, we sensed that the local setting would appeal. So we took a chance and ordered some copies.

“They sold in no time, and every time we’ve re-stocked, the customers keep coming. We’ve been amazed at the level of demand.”

Shoppers have been popping in for more than just a couple of cabbages


The book has been read as far afield as Australia and New Zealand but author John Geraint said he’s delighted that local stores across the valleys are stocking it.

John said: “Out of them all, the single outlet that’s sold most copies is Green Valley. And I think that’s great. Culture and cabbages – right next to each other!”

Manager Rhiannon said the demand for the books stems from the quality of the writing and feedback from her customers has been “tremendous”.

She added: “It’s comic and poignant, fizzing with fun, and customers who’ve read it have said that they didn’t want the book to end.”

The Great Welsh Auntie Novel is John Geraint’s debut in fiction but he’s better known as one of Wales’ most experienced documentary film-makers, directing award-winning programmes for the BBC and major international broadcasters like National Geographic, the History Channel and France Télévisions.

Green Valley green grocers in Treorchy

Rhondda ambition

Author John said: “There was another story I needed to tell – a story closer to home, a story so real to me that it could only be told in fiction.”

The novel follows the adventures of 17-year-old Jac and his circle of friends, growing up in the Rhondda at a time of great social change.

John said: “Although they’re living through the last days of the coal industry, the teenage school friends catch a glimpse of something beyond themselves that they can live by, the ghost of an idea that made Rhondda great.

“And, in my mind, that connects with the wonderful things that are happening in Treorchy right now, in shops like Green Valley and many other businesses, the drive that won this place the title of Britain’s champion high street.

“It’s the kind of ambition that’s always characterised the Rhondda. The ambition to give our people the best. The conviction that they deserve the best and that there’s no reason at all why they shouldn’t have it.”

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