The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies and a quick kick of myself because John Self over at Asylum has been the literary world's answer to Gipsy Acora with this year's longlist, his predictions for this one and several others to be there spot on.
I could have read it weeks ago in that case and now look, I've got thousands of pages to read in a matter of weeks and I'll never do it and what am I doing this for and...
Just feast your eyes on that cover for a start.
The old London Transport travel poster style, could easily be a Margaret Calkin James who I lauded on here a while ago.Bookhound with his graphic design hat on also very taken with it and discovers that this font we all know and love is possibly New Johnston.
It's a winner already in that case, even if it's rubbish it'll look nice on the coffee table.
Thankfully The Welsh Girl as far removed from rubbish as it's possible to get.
Set mostly in nationalist Wales and for writers constantly seeking new angles on WWII fiction Peter Ho Davies has mined a rich new seam for me.The German prisoner-of-war camp bringing the stark realities of the war to this remote part of Wales.Rudolph Hess gets a look in too amongst a range of unusual and complex characters; the prisoners feeling "the crushing, suffocating sense of a whole nation's hatred" the whacky but troubled radio comics, the fiesty little evacuees, the enigmatic exiled German-Jewish interrogator and the lovely Welsh girl herself, Esther.
The book is gentle even in its grittiest moments and quite beautifully written.So much so that I had to keep pausing to consider the profound deeps because here's a book about pride and honour, surrender, defeat and shame all woven into the lives of ordinary people in the last years of the war.
I'm at one with Claire Messud's "each sentence is a pleasure" and Ann Patchett's "perfectly rendered".
Years and years since I read The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro but something kept on reminding me of that book.Tone? Mood? Ambience? I'm not sure but I plan an in depth catch-up read of Ishiguro later this year so perhaps it'll come to me or not.
Now for those of you sitting out in my
waiting room comments section nursing a relapse of hyper-sheerbloodymindedness about reading anything off a prize list ever, Sally that's you, I am going to prescribe a seven day course of The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies and please remember it is very important to finish all courses of prescribed medication.
Rhys, as you inform me you can only read twenty-three pages a day you'll need a two week course.
This one a certainty for my shortlist, I don't know about anyone else's.