- Also check our best rated Romance Book reviews
The Welsh Girl Hardcover – 3 May 2007
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
'A beautifully crafted, lyrical novel' (Maggie O'Farrell, Observer Books of the Year)
'Moving, memorable and beautifully written' (Jessica Mann, Sunday Telegraph)
'Deeply felt and vividly imagined' (Lionel Shriver, Daily Telegraph)
'Fresh and engaging . . . Some sentences and passages are crafted so beautifully and seemingly effortlessly that it provokes envy.' (David Cornett, Sunday Express)
'Quietly powerful . . . a fine piece of work' (Stephen Knight, Times Literary Supplement)
'His prose and the evocation of time and place are almost always of the highest order...he approaches the Second World War with a fresh and contemporary style, a gift that he shares with Kazuo Ishiguro' (Russell Celyn Jones, The Times)
'A scintillating instance of fictional imagination applied to history' (Richard Eder, New York Times)
'Impressive . . . a compelling story in itself, but Davies's special skill lies in integrating conflicts that drive the narrative at a more intense level' (Richard Gwyn, Independent)
The eagerly awaited first novel from one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2003See all Product description
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Then we have the story of Esther Williams, the Welsh Girl of the title, as she adapts to the arrival of evacuees and her own little bundle of joy, whilst she deals with the loss of her mother and various friends.
And then there is the story of Karsten, a German prisoner of war.
The three stories overlap only tangentially, due to collocation in a Welsh speaking village. They have common themes, though, in exploring concepts of loss, shame, guilt, nationalist patriotism, freedom and, perhaps, hope. The stories are competently told - although there does seem to be some needless fuzziness over whether and when Karsten learns Esther's name. They have some complexity but are told in perfectly lucid fashion. The language feels plain, but probably isn't.
The characterization is strong. The key characters have depths of feeling and insecurity that are graphically communicated. This depth of character extends even to careful, albeit brief, depiction of some of the bit part players: Jack the barman, Jim the evacuee; the Major; Hess and all. The imagery of the Welsh countryside is also strong, with the fields and the slate mine adding a contrast of textures.
In terms of style, there is a good balance between the serious themes and the humour provided by Harry and Mary, a couple of radio entertainers who are broadcasting from the relative safety of Wales. This is welcome relief in what might, otherwise, be a rather intense work. There are also some metaphors that would probably dazzle if one thought about them for long enough - the instinct of sheep to remain within their territory is perhaps laid on a bit too thick, but is effective nonetheless.
But the Achilles heel of the novel is that it feels a little too clinical. Like the stylized travel poster cover, the novel feels just a bit sterile. There isn't quite enough emotion to draw the reader into any of the characters and the direction of the story lines is rather predictable. The reader has a role of impartial observer rather than feeling involved in the process. The final epilogue is too long and would have detracted from any emotional crescendo at the end of the final chapter - had there really been a crescendo.
The Welsh Girl is a well written novel of substance, but it does seem to lack the wow factor that could have made it a great.
So in a way - I was very much captivated by it, but in a different way then I am captivated by other books. My desire to read was not fuelled by the desire to finish the book and find out what happens next. I read it because it felt like a comfortable old slipper that warms your cold, worn feet. A strange comparison, perhaps but fitting.
My only complaint, was that from the blurb I was expecting it to be more about Hess - he featured twice in the book and only for a short, largely insignificant amount of time. I feel that the book would not have sold purely on its own without that temptation at the back.
I was slightly disappointed in this as a story about Hess would have been interesting. It follows the story of Esther - the welsh girl and the german POW, rather then Hess.
Despite that, I still enjoyed it very much for what it was - a beautifully written book that takes you straight into the Welsh village, into the life of a plain farm girl.
The isolated village, with its anti-war, anti-English bigotry, gives an insight into the Welsh character which is still relevant today. Esther Evans, 17 years old, living with her widowed father on a sheep farm, finds the sudden influx of English Sappers, drafted in to build a camp for German prisoners, more than a distraction. But when they leave and the prisoners arrive, Esther finds herself drawn towards Karsten, a soldier only a year older than herself. Shunned by the other inmates for choosing to save his men by surrender, Karsten is tormented by what he sees as his own cowardice. There are some good characterisations here and a fine sense of period. Jim, the young English evacuee, whose acceptance by the local children is hard won. Karsten himself and Captain Rotheram, whose circumstances have set him so far apart that he can't find his place in the world. Overall, this is a story about relationships and how the conditions of conflict can test and damage even the most resolute. An interesting subject, well presented.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews