Flowers of Vitriol
It is 1817 and in Amlwch, copper capital of the world, discontent amongst the poor and the disaffected, is about to explode. Mine Superintendent, Tom Kendrick, brings his bride, the beautiful Cornish girl, Alys, 20 years his junior home to Amlwch. The arrival of the Irish sea captain, and his friendship with Kendrick, sets off an intriguing tale of love, jealousy, treachery and blackmail. More
The novel is set in 1817, in the town of Amlwch on the north coast of Anglesey, North Wales. During the late 18th century the exploitation of rich copper reserves on Parys Mountain, close to Amlwch, led to a rapid expansion of the town and the development of a flourishing port; it was copper from Amlwch that was used on the `bottoms` of Nelson`s fleet, and at one time it was regarded as the `copper capital of the world.`
In 1817, when the novel begins, the first phase of copper mining is in decline, and on the streets of Amlwch, discontent amongst the poor, the hungry and the disaffected, is about to break out into open violence. Against this background, Thomas Kendrick, the Superintendent of the Mona Mine Company, a man who enjoys considerable local prestige, brings his bride, the beautiful Cornish girl, Alys, 20 years his junior, home to Amlwch. The arrival of the Irish sea captain, William O`Donnell, and his friendship with Kendrick, and the presence of the English poet, George Bancroft, on his tour of North Wales, set off an intrigue in which love, jealousy, treachery and blackmail lead to dramatic and disastrous
Thomas Kendrick is a successful man, a `man`s man`, who considers his happiness complete when he brings his beautiful young wife home to Hope Lodge, the house he has recently had built in Amlwch. He soon finds, however, that married life has its tribulations, and in a chance conversation with an old friend , Morgan Griffiths, over drinks, he confesses his misgivings. The old friend sees the opportunity to pursue a lifetimes`s secret resentment at Kendrick`s success, by feeding him snippets of gossip and misinformation about his wife`s meetings with the English poet, George Bancroft, calculated to arouse his jealousy.
Kendrick also confides in the young Irish sea captain, William O`Donnell, whom he regards as an honourable and trustworthy friend, and O`Donnell soon finds a way of dealing with George Bancroft, and sending him packing. What Kendrick fails to realise if that it is O`Donnell who is the real threat to wife`s fidelity. In two audacious visits to Hope Lodge, O`Donnell seduces Alys, and seems to have ridden his luck.
A further complication arises, however. when Morgan discovers Alys` infidelity and blackmails her, not for money, but a further act of adultery with himself. Horrified at the prospect of this, Alys turns to William O`Donnell for help, but the only true friend she finds is the local boy, Dewy Hughes, who, in his infatuation with her will do anything he can to help. Eventually she decides that the only thing to do is to agree to Morgan Griffith`s demands and the first climax of the novel, there is considerable suspense as to what will be the outcome of this.
The main climax of the novel develops with an attempt by O`Donnell to hoodwink the local customs officials and carry out a daring piece of contraband running. In this situation the two main antagonists, Kendrick and O`Donnell are set against each other, and the fate of Alys and Dewi depends on the outcome of their conflict.