We first meet Geraint Edwards in his native Snowdonia, when he is playing truant, and we observe him for six to seven years while he goes to grammar school, learns to play the violin, fishes for trout, climbs mountains, falls in love, and is initiated, casually on a mountain side, into the mystery of sex.
The unique quality of this book is the sense of wonder instilled from the first page: for Geraint is at the age (soon forgotten by adults) when he discovers that life and people are seldom what they seem. The black bearded schoolmaster he plans to shoot - when he can afford a gun - has a very human side to his character. Betty Mai Shafto is certainlynot the ‘fat, toadying custard pie’ that she seems. And the terrifying English-man, Mr Maitland, is a never-ending source of shocks.
Gradually, as mature judgements take the place of the accepted notions of childhood the boy grows up against background of the giant, craggy slate quarries and mountains which brood over the village and take their regular toll of human life.