Poverty, suicide, violence and humour help tell the story of the first 18 years of author Chris Griffiths’ life.
Mr Griffiths, now 50, decided to pen his autobiographical tale after friends who learned of his upbringing remarked they were amazed he survived it.
Mr Griffiths, who has lived in Brackley for almost 30 years, said: “It was rather an unusual 18 years. I realised that when someone said to me how did you go through that and come out the other side.”
Mr Griffiths’ book How Grim Was My Valley, charts his early years growing up in Weedon Bec, as one of six siblings in a poor household.
There are tales of great sadness including the suicide of his sister following domestic violence at the hands of her husband.
Alongside are stories of the trouble Mr Griffiths, who admits he was a ‘right little bleeder’, got into with his friends, including when a group of them crept into a wedding reception to taste the food, and ended up stealing the wedding cake!
Mr Griffiths said: “I found it easier to write about than to talk about it. To write something is as if I am writing about someone else and standing in the corner looking in on them. If I talk about it, it feels like that was me.”
The book has been well received, with more than 60 five-star reviews on Amazon’s website. Although Mr Griffiths says he wished his mother, who died in December, had been able to read it. He added: “I wondered how she would react to it. It is very honest, it is how things were.”
Online reviews credit the author’s ‘wonderful use of language and imagery’, calling it ‘poignant’ and ‘laugh out loud’.
Mr Griffiths is now plannining to write a second book, following on from the first.
How Grim Was My Valley is available to buy on Amazon.