The Welsh GirlBook - 2007
Young Esther Evans has lived her whole life within the confines of her remote mountain village. The daughter of a fiercely nationalistic sheep farmer, Esther yearns for a taste of the wider world that reaches her only through broadcasts on the BBC. Then, in the wake of D-day, the world comes to her in the form of a German POW camp set up on the outskirts of Esther's village.
The arrival of the Germans in the camp is a source of intense curiosity in the local pub, where Esther pulls pints for both her neighbors and the unwelcome British guards. One summer evening she follows a group of schoolboys to the camp boundary. As the boys heckle the prisoners across the barbed wire fence, one soldier seems to stand apart. He is Karsten Simmering, a German corporal, only eighteen, a young man of tormented conscience struggling to maintain his honor and humanity. To Esther's astonishment, Karsten calls out to her.
These two young people from worlds apart will be drawn into a perilous romance that calls into personal question the meaning of love, family, loyalty, and national identity. The consequences of their relationship resonate through the lives of a vividly imagined cast of characters: the drunken BBC comedian who befriends Esther, Esther's stubborn father, and the resentful young British "evacuee" who lives on the farm -- even the German-Jewish interrogator investigating the most notorious German prisoner in Wales, Rudolf Hess.
Peter Ho Davies has been hailed for his "all-encompassing empathy that is without borders" (Elle). That trancendent compassion shines through The Welsh Girl, a novel that is both thought-provoking and emotionally enthralling.
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"It's a hypothesis, you see, but the problem with a hypothesis is you don't know it's true until you test it. You can't believe a thing is possible until you do it. Yet until you do it, why even ask if you should? there's no morality about the impossible, Captain. To us, you must understand, this was like climbing Everest, like going to the moon. We couldn't believe such a thing was possible, and that's how we could do it."
it allowed the men to be afraid, gave them license to experience those fears they could never talk about to each other. It's escapism, he knows, rather than escape, but he's gone along with all the rest, if only to watch the newsreels.
Only months after leaving school, reading one night, she came across a passage of dialogue, a character cursing, the line printed only as "---!" and it dawned on her. Of course! what a dashed fool she'd been to miss it. suddenly it seem the most literary of swear words. Not a word at all really
But when he sees the boy running uphill, the planes whipping over the long grass, banking around tree trunks, sailing towards the crest, it comes to Karsten that this is what he has wanted all along, for the planes to go where he cant.
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