Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

This rather slight novel draws together Rotherham, an Anglicised German refugee with a Jewish father, working for British intelligence and cross-examining Rudolf Hess; Karsten, a German POW struggling with the shame of surrender; and the eponymous Esther, encountering foreigners (including the English) for the first time. The parts of the novel dealing with Hess, while interesting, seem a little bolted-on and disconnected from the main narrative which focuses around Esther. Esther is an interesting character, drawn to transgressive acts but ultimately returned to something like convention, although this is built on half-truths and deceits. It's all beautifully written, but a bit too much like three linked short stories to make a satisfying novel.

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