I finished another book. After The Book Thief, it's hard to read any other piece of WWII lit. Talking with one of my professors before dinner tonight, he suggested that Markus Zusak perhaps wasn't the most exceptional writer (I'd agree; he abandoned the intensity of the whole color device pretty early on in the book, and it just wasn't the highest writing I've ever seen), but he was a superb storyteller. I agree wholeheartedly. I became wonderfully attached to the characters, who on paper are quite unremarkable, and are fascinatingly ambiguous, just as we all are. The Welsh Girl did not grip me like The Book Thief did.
But The Welsh Girl is intriguing in its own right. My favorite aspect of the novel was not the plot or even the characters, but the symbol of the sheep herds so vital to life in Esther's small village. Davies paints a world in which herders are tied to the flocks, and flocks are in turn tied to their land, unable to stay on strange land for long. This idea of attachment to a plot of land is called cynefin. Even more interesting to me is the necessity of the female animals to sustain the flock. After they do their duty to the flock, mature males are sent to town for sale for meat. The females, however, are the lifeblood of the flock. Esther wonders why the German refers to is native country as the "fatherland"; in her experience, the only appropriate term for that feeling of obligation to country is "motherland." Interesting.
Gotta love some matriarchal discussion.