Read The Meat Tree by Gwyneth Lewis Online


A dangerous tale of desire, DNA, incest and flowers plays out within the wreckage of an ancient spaceship in The Meat Tree: an absorbing retelling of one of the best-known Welsh myths by prize-winning writer and poet, Gwyneth Lewis.An elderly investigator and his female apprentice hope to extract the fate of the ship's crew from its antiquated virtual reality game system,A dangerous tale of desire, DNA, incest and flowers plays out within the wreckage of an ancient spaceship in The Meat Tree: an absorbing retelling of one of the best-known Welsh myths by prize-winning writer and poet, Gwyneth Lewis.An elderly investigator and his female apprentice hope to extract the fate of the ship's crew from its antiquated virtual reality game system, but their empirical approach falters as the story tangles with their own imagination.By imposing a distance of another 200 years and millions of light years between the reader and the medieval myth, Gwyneth Lewis brings the magical tale of Blodeuwedd, a woman made of flowers, closer than ever before: maybe uncomfortably so.After all, what man has any idea how sap burns in the veins of a woman?...

Title : The Meat Tree
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 21366483
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 200 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Meat Tree Reviews

  • Jen Campbell
    2019-03-23 16:11

    Had to DNF this one, will talk about it in a wrap up.

  • David Hebblethwaite
    2019-04-08 14:11

    This is one of the latest two volumes in Seren Books’ series reworking the medieval Welsh tales of the Mabinogion. I don’t really know those myths, but, luckily for me, there’s a handy synopsis at the back of each book that helped me get up to speed. However, when I read the synopsis in Gwyneth Lewis’s The Meat Tree (based on the fourth branch of the Mabinogion, the story of Blodeuwedd), I thought, how do you make a novel out of this, when it’s so disjointed by comparison?Well, Lewis tackles that issue head-on and has come up with a fascinating solution. The Meat Tree is set in 2210 and focuses on Campion, an ‘Inspector of Wrecks’, and his apprentice Nona. They investigate a ship which has apparently come from Earth, though surely it’s too well-preserved, and there’s no sign of what happened to the crew. In the hope of gaining some clues, Campion and Nona turn to the virtual reality system placed prominently on the ship; this plunges them into the tale of Blodeuwedd – but what was its significance to the crew?Representing the myth as a VR game addresses its episodic nature, as the protagonists experience it episodically (‘the progression of the plot can feel very uncomfortable,’ says Campion [p. 37]). But, more significantly than this, it also puts a distance between the myth itself and our viewpoint characters, which allows Lewis to interrogate the myth as she goes, as well as retelling it. The text becomes something of a live laboratory, as Campion and Nona try to puzzle out what the story might have meant to the people who told it (both in their immediate fictional context and, by implication, to the original medieval tellers); they explore issues such as the symbolic representation of gender and power in a way that doesn’t feel at all forced.On a narrative level, though, The Meat Tree is also fascinating. The story is told entirely through the medium of Campion’s and Nona’s ‘synapse logs’ and ‘joint thought channel’, so that’s layer another of perception to add to all the rest. The protagonists’ identities shift and accrete (for example, near the beginning, we have Nona and Campion in the game playing male characters who have been turned into animals, one male and one female – and how well Lewis handles the writing of it), and even eventually bleed out of the game. There are also moments that bring the bare details of the myth sharply off the page, such as when Blodeuwydd (a woman created magically from flowers) realises that she is ‘a flower made of meat’ (p. 173).Towards the end of the novel, there is perhaps too much of a sense of the two protagonists slotting everything together conveniently – but, then again, what else was going to happen? It would be too much of a let-down if the mystery of the ship stayed a mystery, and there’s no one else to do the figuring-out. Whatever, The Meat Tree is a spectacular work of the imagination.

  • Alys
    2019-03-29 12:18

    Pretty good. This engaged the reader in the story of the Fourth Branch well and built up suspense and mystery effectively. However, the ending was extremely disappointing and scientifically inaccurate and didn't resolve the mysteries in a satisfying way at all. Enjoyable easy read. I really liked the stuff about the stories reflecting the history of the people but I didn't actually understand a lot of it... which I don't think was my fault.

  • Nikki
    2019-03-25 10:29

    Science fiction meets The Mabinogion. Unusual. I wasn't sure how it would all come together, but actually it did so quite well: it wasn't a strange mash-up, but a melding together that happened slowly, allowing the reader to keep pace. I thought it was pretty well done, and I think it's possibly my favourite so far of this series of retellings.Have to say, though, I'm not reading any of them for characters, because they're so much more focused on a clever new tilt on whichever myth they chose (or were assigned, I don't know how it worked). They end up interesting, but light and somewhat forgettable -- you remember the twist on the story better than anything else about it, so in a few weeks I'll mostly remember that this involved a spaceship, virtual reality, and... but that would be telling.

  • Tammy
    2019-03-28 12:25

    Modern telling of a story from the Mabinogion. As I did not know the story at all, having not been brought up on Welsh stories it was interesting to see how the story unfolded in the most unexpected and sometimes rather shocking way. The book is set in the future with an inspector of abandoned space craft and his apprentice. In order to find out why the vessel they are currently working on has been abandoned they decide to participate in a virtual reality game that it appears the crew had been playing before they disappeared. And find themselves in a medieval setting... I have read another of these re-telling of stories from the Mabinogion and do enjoy them. It is a way of making them accessible needing to know your Welsh or feel like you are reading a fairy tale.

  • T. Rhodes
    2019-04-14 11:23

    Brilliant re-telling of classic Welsh myth!

  • Jessica
    2019-04-07 12:09

    Gave up on this at page 134. A little too much casual mentioning of rape for my liking. This isn't the kind of writing style I like either. An interesting premise but it just felt pointless and distant as I read on. Basically, it just wasn't very good. Sad times.

  • Rhian
    2019-04-11 11:25

    The Meat Tree is one of eight novels published by Seren, an independent Welsh publisher, in which contemporary Welsh writers reimagine the traditional tales of the Mabinogian for the twenty-first century, (or in the case of The Meat Tree, for the twenty-third.)The Meat Tree is based on the story of Blodeuwedd, a woman made of flowers, incidentally the same story that Alan Garner used in The Owl Service, if anyone has read that. According to the author It's a tale of 'rape, incest, bestiality, miracle births and murder' and there must have been an awful lot of editing before the story was deemed suitable for the children's version of the Mabinogion that I had when I was younger. The first part of the tale (the original version is given in the afterword) will give you a taste:'Math was the lord of Gwynedd and Pryderi of land to the south. Math could only live if his feet we're in the lap of a virgin, except when there was a war.Goewin, his foot holder, was the most beautiful maiden in the land and Math's nephew, Gilfaethwy, desired her. So Gilfaethwy's brother, Gwydion, the best storyteller in the world, engineered a war with the south and while the king was away Gilfaethwy raped Goewin. When Math discovered this he married Goewin as recompense. He punished his nephews by turning them into animals for three years, deer for the first year, then boar, then wolves. He forced them to breed and have offspring, whom he fostered.'.So much for the original myth: the actual book takes place on a spaceship in the year 2210 where a retiring Inspector of Wrecks is reluctantly taking an equally reluctant apprentice for his last mission, to investigate a spaceship abandoned from the first years of space exploration. Finding no bodies, they investigate the ancient virtual reality consoles left behind for any clues to what has happened to the spaceship's occupants. And then it does get quite strange...

  • RebeccaLouise
    2019-04-02 16:16

    The Meat Tree combines two genres I love to read but often aren’t combined in literature: Welsh fiction and SF. Lewis manages to breathe new life into an old tale and creates an original yet faithful story. However it isn’t without its flaws. The choice to use just the two characters’ thoughts to narrate the story was ambitious and doesn’t always work. Half way through the novel there’s a clunky bit where the Inspector asks himself: So what do we know so far about this ship? and goes on to describe the plot so far. Despite these moments, the plot does tick along and there’s enough mystery to intrigue you even if you are familiar with the original myth. Blodeuwedd and Gronw Pebr’s affair is my favourite part of the novel. Lewis uses some of the language from the book The Intelligence of Flowers to describe the couple’s lovemaking. It’s a stroke of genius as it creates a sensual and innovative scene that highlights Blodeuwedd’s flowery heritage. A flawed but ambitious novel.

  • Jim
    2019-04-14 11:33

    As a standalone science fiction novel (measured up against something like Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris) it’s not a classic; it feels like a novelisation of an episode of The Outer Limits and I’m talking about the nineties relaunch not the sixties originals: perfectly watchable, reasonably high production values, ties everything up neatly at the end but missing something. As an adaptation of the source material and an introduction to it the book does a pretty decent job and I would think those who have to study the original text would find this a most pleasant way to start to get to grips with the text because that’s what the two protagonists are trying to do and they takes us along with them.You can read my full review on my blog here.

  • Gemma Williams
    2019-04-11 13:18

    I really loved this book. I first found out about the Blodeuwedd story when I was at school and we read the 'owl service' I fell in love with the story and bought a book of welsh myths immediately. About two weeks ago I went to see Gwyneth Lewis talking about some of her work and bought this book, until then I had no idea that the series had been written. I'm very glad I went and I'm very glad that I chose this book to read (my first book written by her) I will be reading more by Gwyneth Lewis and more of this series of books.

  • Vishvapani
    2019-04-18 08:12

    An ambitious and complex retelling of the Blodeuwedd myth - the woman of flowers from the Mabinogion - set on a spaceship and with the rules of virtual reality taking the place of myth. The main problem I had with the book was the complexity of the underlying myth, which I didn't know prior to reading this. As the book does so much with the myth in addition to its basic elements it gets pretty mind-boggling. But the lyrical elements are beautiful and the sci fi complications do add up to a worthwhile reflection on the nature of identity and imagination, including its destructive potential.

  • Lin Howells
    2019-03-22 13:07

    Not over keen on science fiction- I prefer the Mabinogion. This story is derivative, contrived and I think, self-conscious.

  • Falbs
    2019-04-15 09:10

    This one is just weird, makes me want to read more about Welsh myths.