The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

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In November’s meeting of Bury Library’s Readers Group we discussed The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies. Long listed for The Man Booker Prize in 2007 the book cover shows the following reviews:

‘Deeply felt and vividly imagined.’ Lionel Shriver, Daily Telegraph.

‘Moving, memorable and beautifully written…a gripping human story…it leaves one thinking about the nature of cowardice and patriotism, identity and roots.’ Jessica Mann, Sunday Telegraph.

‘A beautifully crafted, lyrical novel.’ Maggie O’Farrell, Observer Books of the Year.

Bury Libraries catalogue description is:

This novel traces a perilous wartime romance as it explores the bonds of love and duty that hold us to family, country, and ultimately, our fellow man.

You can imagine that, with this build up, I was really surprised when the book received such a negative reaction from the majority of the group and the lively discussion that ensued. Seen as ‘disjointed’ and ‘three stories that never really came together’, the overall reaction was one of dissatisfaction. In fact the members of the group who said that they enjoyed the book, did so by concentrating on one of the story lines that they liked and discounted the others. For example one lady loved Esther’s story but for her the Captain Rotheram and Rudolph Hess story line was incidental. Whilst there was positive feedback for the novels descriptions of the setting and the time period, it was also perceived as being slow and plodding, over descriptive and ‘not a page turner’. On a plus note some people would not be put off reading more by this author; as this was his first book and they feel he may have developed a more cohesive style as he has become more experienced.

Over the next month our group will be reading “The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fford.

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Have a good month.

Nic (Reader Development Team)

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