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Ho Davies's long-awaited first novel is a grand, epic wartime romance, a moving and richly imagined story that explores the conflicting bonds of love and duty. In 1944, WWII has finally made its inexorable journey to the remote mountains of northern Wales, as German POW camps, guarded by British troops, dot the once-tranquil countryside. Centuries of distrust and antagonism divide the locals, none more than 17-year-old Esther Evans, the Welsh girl of the title.
Burdened by her own painful secrets, Esther is barely aware of the German captives until one calls out to her in English. That soldier, Karsten Simmering, broken and ashamed, no longer knows what he was fighting for. When he spies Esther lingering outside the camp's fence, and the words "Don't go" slip unexpectedly from his lips, he has no idea what lies ahead; their illicit romance will test their most deeply held beliefs and place them squarely in the center of a moral and political maelstrom.
The Welsh Girl never falters in its portrayal of the impossible compromises we make for family, love, and country. Ho Davies has penned an arresting and confident first novel that's both compassionate and complex. (Spring 2007 Selection)