Excerpt from West by Carys Davies, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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West by Carys Davies X
West by Carys Davies
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2018, 160 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2019, 128 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat
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West

From what she could see he had two guns, a hatchet, a knife, his rolled blanket, the big tin chest, various bags and bundles, one of which, she supposed, contained her mother's things.

"How far must you go?"

"That depends."

"On where they are?"

"Yes."

"So how far? A thousand miles? More than a thousand miles?"

"More than a thousand miles, I think so, Bess, yes."

Bellman's daughter was twirling a loose thread that hung down from his blanket, which until this morning had lain upon his bed. She looked up at him. "And then the same back."

"The same back, yes."

She was quiet a moment, and there was a serious, effortful look about her, as if she was trying to imagine a thousand miles.

"But worth it if you find them."

"I think so, Bess. Yes."

He saw her looking at his bundles and his bags and the big tin chest, and wondered if she was thinking about Elsie's things. He hadn't meant her to see him packing them.

She was drawing a circle in the muddy ground with the toe of her boot. "So how long will you be gone? A month? More than a month?"

Bellman shook his head and took her hand. "Oh, Bess, yes, more than a month. A year at least. Maybe two."

Bess nodded. Her eyes smarted. This was much longer than she'd expected, much longer than she'd hoped.

"In two years I will be twelve."

"Twelve, yes." He lifted her up then and kissed her forehead and told her goodbye, and in another moment he was aloft on his horse in his brown wool coat and his high black hat, and then he was off down the stony track that led away from the house, already heading in a westerly direction.

"Regard him, Bess, this person, this fool, my brother, John Cyrus Bellman, for you will not clap eyes upon a greater one. From today I am numbering him among the lost and the mad. Do not expect that you will see him again, and do not wave, it will only encourage him and make him think he deserves your good wishes. Come inside now, child, close the door, and forget him."

For a long time Bess stood, ignoring the words of her aunt Julie, watching her father ride away.

In her opinion he did not resemble any kind of fool.

In her opinion he looked grand and purposeful and brave. In her opinion he looked intelligent and romantic and adventurous. He looked like someone with a mission that made him different from other people, and for as long as he was gone she would hold this picture of him in her mind: up there on his horse with his bags and his bundles and his weapons—up there in his long coat and his stovepipe hat, heading off into the west.

She did not ever doubt that she would see him again.

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Excerpted from West by Carys Davies. Copyright © 2018 by Carys Davies. Excerpted by permission of Scribner. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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