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The Welsh Girl

(2006)
A novel by

 
Awards
The Richard and Judy Best Read of the Year Best Book (nominee)
The Man Booker Prize Best Novel (nominee)
Following two widely praised short-story collections, Equal Love and The Ugliest House in the World, Peter Ho Davies's first novel, The Welsh Girl, deserves to be equally well received. It carefully examines two great themes, dislocation and cowardice, through the stories of a WWII POW camp built by the British in the remote mountains of northern Wales and Esther, the 17-year-old Welsh girl at the heart of the story. The POW camp, filled with Germans, is yet another national insult, as far as the Welsh are concerned, only one of many instances of prejudice between and among the novel's characters: Welshman against Brit and vice versa, Brits and Welshmen against Germans, Germans against Jews. Some of these enmities are age-old antagonisms; others are newly-minted political killing machines.

Davies introduces a Welsh concept--cynefin--for which there is no English equivalent. It means a certain knowledge and sense of place that is passed down the matrilineal line in a flock of sheep. They always know where they belong and never leave their own turf. It is a perfect metaphor for much of what takes place in this carefully plotted story, and for the displacement felt by many of the characters. Esther longs to escape her village, yet is devoted to the flock and to her father. She meets Colin, an English soldier, in the pub where she works. He is a rough sort and things end very badly between them.

Another theme visited again and again is the concept of cowardice. Is it cowardly to save one's life and the lives of others by surrendering to the enemy? Is death the price that must be paid to be considered brave? The German POWs debate this endlessly, especially Karsten, an intelligent, sensitive soldier who did surrender himself and his men when it was clear that all was lost. When he and Esther find one another under impossible circumstances, Davies renders their relationship perfectly: it is star-crossed, but desperately important to both of them, setting them both "free" in the truest sense of the word. The Welsh Girl is a beautifully told story of love, war, and the accommodations we make in the midst of both. --Valerie RyanFrom the award-winning author Peter Ho Davies comes an ambitious and moving wartime romance in the tradition of "The English Patient and Atonement". "The Welsh Girl" begins with a provocative but little-known fact of World War II: the British held German POWs in camps in remote Wales, a proud land with age-old antagonisms toward England. Davies?s beautifully written novel imagines the unexpected and perilous romance that blossoms between a secretive local girl and a German prisoner, and explores the indelible bonds of love and duty that hold us to family, country, and ultimately our fellow man. The Welsh girl of the title is Esther Evans, seventeen, the daughter of a shepherd in the rugged Snowdonia Mountains, who works at the local pub. It is 1944, and the war comes to her village just after D-day in the form of a new POW camp. Although the presence of the English guards is only grudgingly tolerated at the pub, the arrival of the German captives brings the entire village to the hillside above the camp. At first Esther watches from a distance, but her attention is soon caught by one of the soldiers, Karsten Simmering, a troubled young man who has begun to question what he is fighting for. One evening, as Esther lingers by the camp fence, she is astonished when Karsten calls out to her in English. The fates of these two become inexorably entwined when their relationship takes a treacherous turn that calls into question all their assumptions about national and personal loyalty.

 
Used availability for Peter Ho Davies's The Welsh Girl


See all available used copies of this book at Abebooks UK or Abebooks US
 

Hardback Editions

May 2007 : UK Hardback
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
ISBN: 0-340-95312-8 / 978-0-340-95312-9 (UK edition)
Publisher: Sceptre
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   

May 2007 : UK Hardback
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
ISBN: 0-340-93825-0 / 978-0-340-93825-6 (UK edition)
Publisher: Sceptre
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

February 2007 : USA Hardback
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
ISBN: 0-618-00700-8 / 978-0-618-00700-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

October 2006 : UK Hardback
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
ISBN: 0-340-93479-4 / 978-0-340-93479-1 (UK edition)
Publisher: Sceptre
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Paperback Editions

January 2008 : USA Paperback
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
ISBN: 0-618-91852-3 / 978-0-618-91852-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Mariner Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

2007 : UK Paperback
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
ISBN: 0-340-93828-5 / 978-0-340-93828-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Sceptre
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   

December 2007 : UK Paperback
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
ISBN: 0-340-93827-7 / 978-0-340-93827-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Sceptre
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

February 2007 : UK Paperback
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
ISBN: 0-340-93826-9 / 978-0-340-93826-3 (UK edition)
Publisher: Sceptre
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

Audio Editions

February 2008 : UK Audio edition
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Availability: Amazon UK   

February 2008 : UK Audio CD
Title: The Welsh Girl (unabridged audio book)
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies narrated by Richard Mitchley
ISBN: 1-4074-1685-5 / 978-1-4074-1685-4 (UK edition)
Publisher: Whole Story Audio Books
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

2007 : UK Audio CD
Title: The Welsh Girl (Audiobook)
Author(s):
ISBN: 1-4074-0885-2 / 978-1-4074-0885-9 (UK edition)
Publisher:
Availability: Amazon UK   

Kindle Editions

August 2013 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
Title: The Welsh Girl
Author(s): Peter Ho Davies
Publisher: Mariner Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   



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