Not a Nasty

Thomas Jones

  • The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
    Sceptre, 344 pp, £12.99, May 2007, ISBN 978 0 340 93825 6

The Welsh girl’s name is Esther Evans. She is 17 years old, and lives with her father – her mother is dead – on a sheep farm in North Wales. In the evenings she works behind the lounge bar of the Quarryman’s Arms in the village a couple of miles from their smallholding. It’s 1944. English sappers from the Pioneer Corps are in the area, converting an abandoned holiday camp for a clandestine military purpose. The local rumour mill is hard at work, grinding out speculation as to what or who the new base is for: commandos, Free French, Poles, Americans, ‘alpine troops training in the mountains for the invasion of Norway’. On the evening of D-Day, Esther and Colin, a sapper she’s been ‘stepping out with’, sneak down to the camp after last orders.

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