By Peter Ho Davies
In 1944, a German Jewish refugee is distributed to Wales to interview Rudolf Hess; in Snowdonia, a seventeen-year-old woman, the daughter of a fiercely nationalistic shepherd, desires of the brilliant lighting fixtures of an English urban; and in a close-by POW camp, a German soldier struggles to reconcile his hand over along with his experience of honour. As their lives intersect, all 3 will come to query the place they belong and the place their loyalties lie.
Peter Ho Davies's thought-provoking and profoundly relocating first novel strains a deadly wartime romance because it explores the bonds of affection and accountability that carry us to family members, nation, and eventually our fellow guy. Vividly rooted in background and panorama, THE WELSH lady reminds us anew of the pervasive presence of the previous, and the startling intimacy of the international.
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We have a day on them, maybe less. Which brings me to you gentlemen. I am trying to convey this hotheaded fool to safety among his mother's people, in Azerbaijan, to install him in the walls of his grandfather's house, his mother's father being by reputation a hard customer. Watching your display tonight, I was able to discern not only the sham of it but the murderous art that fools the spectator into believing. ” And he named a sum then, equal to five times the salary of a dekarch in the army of Byzantium.
He had been an unwilling participant in the raid on the stronghold in Azerbaijan, and in fact had spent the hour it endured cowering under a hay wagon at the back of a stable. Though only a week earlier the idea would have struck him as heresy, as he lay waiting to become carrion he considered that plump and vivacious Sarah was perhaps unworthy of his suffering and death, when after all, she chewed with her mouth open and her wind, when she had been consuming too much milk, gave off an unsettling odor of brimstone.
In the fireplace a glowing castle of embers subsided to ash. The mahout heard the iron ticking of a kettle on the boil in the kitchen. The benches squeaked, and travelers spat in anticipation of a fight. The Frankish scarecrow slipped out from under his impaled hat and unfolded himself one limb at a time, running his fingers along the parting in his yellow hair. He looked from the African to the hat and back. His cloak, trousers, hose and boots were all black, in sharp contrast with the pallor of his soft hands and the glints of golden whisker on his chin and cheeks, and if he was not a priest, then he must, thought the mahout, for whom a knowledge of men was a necessary corollary to an understanding of elephants, be a physician or an exegete of moldering texts.
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies