Excerpt from The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Welsh Girl

By Peter Ho Davies

The Welsh Girl
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Feb 2007,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2008,
    352 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Just before her death, she told him how she’d been spat on in the streets of Berlin in 1919. “After Versailles,” she said. “Because I was Canadian. That’s what your grandparents could never forgive. I was a reminder of the enemy who’d killed their son. I wasn’t German enough for them, you see?”

Among her possessions, after her funeral, he ’d found a photograph of his father he ’d never seen before. It must have been taken on that last leave because he looked gaunt, his tunic loose on his frame, his features sharpened almost to caricature, no longer the smiling, slightly plump figure in a close-fitting uniform that Rotheram had seen in earlier poses. This was his father, he thought, and the figure had seemed to rebuke him.

And yet the following week he’d gone ahead and Anglicized his name.



He looked at his watch — not quite one a.m. — and decided to try the CO. Hawkins was an insomniac — his own sleep ruined by so many round-the-clock interrogations — and often spent nights at his desk catching up on paperwork. Sure enough, he picked up on the second ring, sounding more alert than the sleepy operator who put Rotheram’s call through.

Barefoot, greatcoat over his pajamas, Rotheram huddled over the phone in the drafty hall and said he was ready to head back to London.

“You’ve made up your mind about Hess? That was quick.”

Rotheram hesitated, stared at some movement down the hall, realized it was his own reflection in a mirror.

“Not really.”

“What? Speak up.”

“No, sir,” Rotheram enunciated. He cupped his hand around the mouthpiece, conscious of the stillness of the house around him. “I’m just not sure I’ll be able to, under the circumstances.”

“So spend some more time. Take another run at him.”

“I don’t think that’ll do any good,” Rotheram offered.

“But why, for heaven’s sake?” Hawkins seemed to be shouting in the quiet of the hallway.

And Rotheram was forced to admit that he was reluctant to find Hess sane because the thought of confirming Redgrave and Mills’s assumptions rankled.

“Let me get this straight,” the CO said. “You believe you can judge Hess fairly, but you’re concerned that others won’t see that judgment as impartial because they think you’re Jewish.

Those are the horns of your dilemma?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, but do you ever think you might not be so impartial after all?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Rotheram said tightly. “Even if I were Jewish, I’m not sure why it should make me any less impartial than a Frenchman or a Russian.”

He heard Hawkins take a sip of something, and then another. Finally he asked, “Tell me, my boy, honestly now, don’t you ever think about your family? Your grandparents made for Paris, you say. Don’t you wonder where they are, what’s become of them?”

Rotheram was momentarily taken aback. He began to say no and stopped, unsure. Hawkins had taught him to recognize the pause before answering as a lie. It came to Rotheram that whatever he said now would seem false. So he was silent, which as Hawkins had taught him might mean a man was holding something back, or simply that he didn’t know.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he whispered now. “You’ll have my report Monday morning.”

There was a long sigh at the other end of the line, and Rotheram felt how he’d failed Hawkins. But when the CO spoke again he sounded brusquely hearty.

“No need to hurry back, my boy. There’ve been some new orders, as a matter of fact. The POW department want someone to visit their camps up in North Wales. Something to do with screening and the reeducation program. Denazification and all that. Thought you’d be just the fellow to liaise. Anyhow, the orders should catch up with you there later today, or tomorrow at the latest.”

Copyright © 2007 by Peter Ho Davies. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  125Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.