The theme of This Bygone is community. Specifically,
it is the Welsh mining community of the years before and during the Second
World War, although it ranges ambitiously on from there. Berry's hero, Dewi
Joshua, is young, jaunty, cocksure, to some extent an heir to the heroes of the
sixties' novels like 'Room At The Top' and 'Saturday Night And Sunday Morning'
- although I regard This Bygone is at least as good a book as either of those.
For what raises Berry's novel above the run of many is its
stylistic excellence, the surface brilliance and crackle of it texture. His
first concern is to establish the harshness of life in the pits, something he
does in his explosive opening chapter, as dialogue and narration seem to be
almost gobbed out of the side of narrator's and characters' mouths.