From the acclaimed writer Peter Ho Davies comes an engrossing wartime love story set in the stunning landscape of North Wales during the final, harrowing months of World War II. Young Esther Evans has lived her whole life within the confines of her remote mountain village. The daughter of a... read more
Esther, a WWII-era Welsh barmaid, finds her father—a fiercely nationalistic, anti-English shepherd—provincial; she daydreams that she'll elope to London with her secret sweetheart, an English soldier. In short order, Esther is raped by her boyfriend, and her Welsh village is turned into a... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Esther, a WWII-era Welsh barmaid, finds her father—a fiercely nationalistic, anti-English shepherd—provincial; she daydreams that she'll elope to London with her secret sweetheart, an English soldier. In short order, Esther is raped by her boyfriend, and her Welsh village is turned into a dumping ground for German prisoners. Meanwhile, Karsten, a German POW who is mortified that he'd ordered his men to surrender, believes that only by escaping can he find redemption. Davies (Equal Love) uses the familiar tensions of WWII Britain to nice ensemble effect: among the more nuanced secondary characters is a British captain who is the son of a German-Jewish WWI hero—the man's father had always considered himself a Lutheran until the Nazi ascension forced him to flee Germany. As Esther begins to question her own allegiances, Karsten comes into her orbit. What makes this first novel by an award-winning short-storyteller an intriguing read isn't the plot—which doesn't quite go anywhere—but the beautifully realized characters, who learn that life is a jumble of difficult compromises best confronted with eyes wide open.
“Better, he thinks, that you should hate me than feel forgiven.”Rotheram, in reference to his CO, Hawkins
however cynefin was preserved, it was from mother to daughter.Highlighted by 4 Kindle customers
mostly he speaks of cynefin with a kind of reverence, with pride even—not least, as he's told her several times, because the English don't have a word for it. As if it's an essentially Welsh quality.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
We couldn't believe such a thing was possible, and that's how we could do it.'Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
Sometimes it feels like they're all linked somehow, the losses, like a chain, one death coupled to the next, and the next, whichever side they're on.'Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
The Jews, he knew, had no homeland, yearned for one, and yet as much as he understood it to be a source of their victimization, it seemed at once such pure freedom to be without a country.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
That's the power of film, to draw a line between those who act and those who watch.'Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
'So, your bloody English, see here,' Arthur concludes, 'they call us welshers, cheaters, deceivers, make like the very word 'Welsh' means to lie, to betray, when all along they was the ones, with their vicious rule, made our boys act like that.'Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
She's been working here for almost three months now, since she turned seventeen,Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
but she's never once served him. He sticks to the public bar, the Welsh-speaking half of the pub, while she, with her proper schoolroom English, works in the lounge serving the soldiers, locals like the constable who mix with them, and the motley assortment of other new arrivals. Not that her father's English, his spoken English at least, is so bad for all his thick accent; it's just beneath his dignity to use it.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
This corner of North Wales feels such a long way from the center of life, from London or Liverpool or, heavens, America. But nationalism, she senses, is a way of putting it back in the center, of saying that what's here is important enough. And this really is what Esther wants, what she dimly suspects they all want. To be important, to be the center of attention.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
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