Simon Baker

Simon Baker on Four First Novels

  • Peter Ho Davies, 
  • Ivo Stourton, 
  • Owen Sheers, 
  • Anita Amirrezvani

The cliché ‘eagerly awaited’ seems appropriate for The Welsh Girl, by Peter Ho Davies, a debut which finally appears four years after its author’s inclusion on the Granta ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ roster. It is set in 1944, in a North Wales village so quietly traditional that many locals speak English only haltingly. The novel contains three strands, the main one about Esther, a young barmaid who becomes pregnant after being raped by a British soldier, the second about a bright German PoW held in a camp in the village, who falls for Esther, and the third about a German Jewish refugee working for British intelligence, who arrives to interrogate Rudolf Hess, who is imprisoned nearby.

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