I just finished this novel by Peter Ho Davies yesterday. It is a World War II novel from a setting and perspective that I found wholly original. Most of the story takes place in Wales during the last few months of WWII. It tells the story of a German POW and a Welsh farm girl — their separate stories intersect in an unusual way. The novel speaks of nationality, sense of place, and identity from a totally fresh perspective. It is also about surrender – and on more than one level. It may not look huge, but it is packed with feeling and meaning.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I recommend it strongly. The writing is wonderful – economical and lyrical. It is compelling to read – Esther’s voice in particular spoke to me, but others might enjoy Karsten more. I had issues with the scenes that included Hess — they felt out of place to me. I can see why the author included them, but I can’t help but feel that the novel would have been more balanced without them. The New York Times reviewed the novel here.
I’ll personally be on the look out for other works by Davies.