The Welsh Girl
Peter Ho Davies
NUTSHELL: Two plots – one plot = enough plot. This one’s more of a 5.
Who’s the Welsh Girl? That would be Esther Evans, living in Wales in the 1940s. Her sweetheart’s off to war and she and her father have an evacuee child. Esther also works as a barmaid in town.
What’s her plot? She falls in love with a prisoner of war named Karsten.
But that’s not so awful. Um. World War II? And the POW is German?
…right. I can see where that’d be a conflict. Good. But that’s not the worst part. Esther’s raped right in the beginning of the story by an English soldier, leaving her pregnant. Her friend Mary does try to get her an abortion.
What a depressing book. It gets worse. The doctor can’t perform the abortion, so she’s stuck passing the kid off as her sweetheart’s boy. At least he doesn’t come home from the war.
At least?! She didn’t love him. She’d have had to marry him. What are you, some kind of sadist? Oy.
What about Karsten? Busts out, has the romance with Esther, gets recaptured. The ending implies he stuck around after the war, but only for a little while.
Rats. Yeah. And then there’s the Rudolf Hess subplot, which made no sense to me, so I pretty much skipped those bits. That was the plot too many for me. It had nothing to do with the main story; why was it even in there?
So nobody gets a happy ending. Nope. Sorry.
I suppose I could read it for the prose. You could, at that. The quality of the writing saved this book. If you’re just looking for a story, though… don’t bother.