"The Welsh Girl"
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 12th August 2012This novel set in Snowdonia in Wales at the end of World War II tells the stories of three different characters: Captain Rotherham is a German ex-pat working for British intelligence and charged with interviewing Rudolf Hess to determine whether the old man's amnesia is real; and Karsten is a German POW incarcerated in a prison camp outside the remote Welsh village of Esther Evans (the eponymous Welsh girl). Each of them faces their own struggle with the different secrets that they're keeping, as each tries to understand what the concepts of loyalty and bravery mean in the real world.
This is Davies' first book and it's a good read, although possibly a bit uneven at times (Rotherham's part felt a little tangential at the end to me), and the very different situations of the three protagonists are a clever way to explore the themes of belonging and not-belonging, secrecy and lies, and what it means to be brave. I also liked how he neatly side-steps the cliched happy ending while bringing things to a satisfying conclusion.