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 by Peter Ho Davies X
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2007, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2008, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


It had been damp and overcast in London — Rotheram needed to let out the choke to get the car started — but by Cheltenham it was warm enough to roll his windows down, and motoring through the Marches into Wales, he found himself lifted by the rippling emerald country, the bright broad skies, so different from the narrow greyness of London.

Still, climbing into the Black Mountains felt like crossing into autumn. Fat drops of rain splattered the windscreen, and by the time he arrived, the metal of the film canisters was cold enough to sting his fingers as he carried them in from the car. He walked up the gravel drive to the manor house, remembering something Hawkins had once told him, that the gentry had put in gravel to announce their visitors. He had a moment to take in the ivy-bearded brick, the leaded windows crosshatched a second time with safety tape, and then he heard the bolt draw back on the heavy oak door.

“Ah,” the pinch-faced lieutenant who met him declared, “I see you’ve brought our feature presentation.”

The lieutenant, a doctor in the RAMC who introduced himself only as Mills, showed him into the parlor, where a projector had been set up. “You’ve eaten already?” he asked brusquely, but Rotheram shook his head. There’d been only a meager ploughman’s at a sullen pub outside Cirencester. The doctor looked disconcerted. “Well, look, not to be inhospitable, but could you possibly wait? Unless you’re ravenous, I mean. Only, he’s an early riser, so if you want to show it this evening, best start soon.” He smiled apologetically. “Can’t promise he won’t nod off, otherwise.”

“It’s fine.” Rotheram began loading the film. His fingers were so chilled they trembled, and it took him long minutes to thread the first reel through the sprockets.

“Nervous?” Mills asked.

“Cold,” Rotheram said, rubbing his fingers. “Those will have to be turned,” he added, indicating the neat row of chairs and making a circling gesture, “so we can watch him.”

“Right you are,” the other replied agreeably enough, although Rotheram noticed he didn’t offer to light the fire in the grate.

Finally the film was ready, and Rotheram ran it forward for a few seconds, watching the test numbers flicker and count down, and then the opening shots from a plane descending over the city, the image ghostly in the still-bright room.

“Action,” Mills called jauntily.

Rotheram snapped the machine into reverse and the camera lifted back through the wispy clouds, the medieval rooftops dwindling, the soundtrack discordant and garbled. He ’d tracked down the print at the censor’s office — they’d impounded half a dozen copies at the start of the war — and he’d run it for himself the night before in his office, to make sure it was whole and to refamiliarize himself. He ’d waited until everyone had left for the evening, afraid of being caught, as if it were pornography.

“All right,” he said, and Mills opened the door.

Someone must have been waiting for the signal, for less than a minute later there were footsteps in the passage outside.

Rotheram expected a guard to come first, but it was Hess himself, stepping into the drawing room as if it were his home. He was greying and more drawn than Rotheram recalled from his pictures, his nose as sharp as a beak and his cheekbones swept up like wings under his skin, as if his face were about to take flight. Out of uniform, in a navy blue cardigan, darned at one elbow, he seemed stooped, retired, more a shy uncle than the fiery deputy führer. His shirt was pressed and buttoned to the throat, but he wore no tie, and Rotheram recalled he ’d made two suicide attempts, according to the file: once opening his veins with a butter knife he had stolen and sharpened on an iron bedstead; a second time hurdling a third-story banister. He was limping from that fall still, as he approached and held out his hand. Rotheram stared at it, slowly held out his own, but to one side, gesturing to the armchair. Hess ignored the insult, taking his place with only a wry “Vielen Dank,” to which Rotheram found himself automatically mumbling, “Bitte.”

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Sunburn
    Sunburn
    by Laura Lippman
    Crime writer Laura Lippman is both prolific and versatile. After spending years as a reporter for ...
  • Book Jacket: The Wife Between Us
    The Wife Between Us
    by Sarah Pekkanen, Greer Hendricks
    The Wife Between Us is an intriguing collaboration between first-time novelist Greer Hendricks and ...
  • Book Jacket: The Wife Between Us
    The Wife Between Us
    by Sarah Pekkanen, Greer Hendricks
    The Wife Between Us is an intriguing collaboration between first-time novelist Greer Hendricks and ...
  • Book Jacket: Only Child
    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin
    Rhiannon Navin's debut novel, Only Child received an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 from BookBrowse ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The French Girl
    by Lexie Elliott

    An exhilarating debut psychological suspense novel for fans of Fiona Barton and Ruth Ware.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Beartown

Now in Paperback!

From the author of a A Man Called Ove, a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T I M A Slip B C A L

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.