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West: A Novel

West: A Novel

Автором Carys Davies

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West: A Novel

Автором Carys Davies

4/5 (47 оценки)
159 pages
2 hours
Apr 24, 2018


Named a Best Book of the Year by The Sunday Times (UK) * The Guardian (UK) * The Washington Independent Review of Books * Sydney Morning Herald * The Los Angeles Public Library * The Irish Independent * Real Simple *

Finalist for the Rathbones Folio Prize

“Carys Davies is a deft, audacious visionary.” —Téa Obreht

When widowed mule breeder Cy Bellman reads in the newspaper that colossal ancient bones have been discovered in the salty Kentucky mud, he sets out from his small Pennsylvania farm to see for himself if the rumors are true: that the giant monsters are still alive and roam the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River. Promising to write and to return in two years, he leaves behind his only daughter, Bess, to the tender mercies of his taciturn sister and heads west.

With only a barnyard full of miserable animals and her dead mother’s gold ring to call her own, Bess, unprotected and approaching womanhood, fills lonely days tracing her father’s route on maps at the subscription library and waiting for his letters to arrive. Bellman, meanwhile, wanders farther and farther from home, across harsh and alien landscapes, in reckless pursuit of the unknown.

From Frank O’Connor Award winner Carys Davies, West is a spellbinding and timeless epic-in-miniature, an eerie parable of the American frontier and an electric monument to possibility.
Apr 24, 2018

Об авторе

Carys Davies was the winner of the the 2010 Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Short Story Award, the 2011 Royal Society of Literature’s V S Pritchett Memorial Prize, and a 2013 Northern Writers’ Award. She has been shortlisted and longlisted for many other prizes including the Calvino Prize, the Manchester Fiction Prize, the Roland Mathias Prize, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, the Wales Book of the Year and the William Trevor/Elizabeth Bowen Prize. Born in Wales, she now lives in Lancaster.

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West - Carys Davies


From what she could see he had two guns, a hatchet, a knife, his rolled blanket, the big tin chest, various bags and bundles, one of which, she supposed, contained her mother’s things.

How far must you go?

That depends.

On where they are?


So how far? A thousand miles? More than a thousand miles?

More than a thousand miles, I think so, Bess, yes.

Bellman’s daughter was twirling a loose thread that hung down from his blanket, which until this morning had lain upon his bed. She looked up at him. And then the same back.

The same back, yes.

She was quiet a moment, and there was a serious, effortful look about her, as if she was trying to imagine a journey of such magnitude. That’s a long way.

Yes, it is.

But worth it if you find them.

I think so, Bess. Yes.

He saw her looking at his bundles and his bags and the big tin chest, and wondered if she was thinking about Elsie’s things. He hadn’t meant her to see him packing them.

She was drawing a circle in the muddy ground with the toe of her boot. So how long will you be gone? A month? More than a month?

Bellman shook his head and took her hand. Oh, Bess, yes, more than a month. A year at least. Maybe two.

Bess nodded. Her eyes smarted. This was much longer than she’d expected, much longer than she’d hoped.

In two years I will be twelve.

Twelve, yes. He lifted her up then and kissed her forehead and told her goodbye, and in another moment he was aloft on his horse in his brown wool coat and his high black hat, and then he was off down the stony track that led away from the house, already heading in a westerly direction.

Look you long and hard, Bess, at the departing figure of your father, said her aunt Julie from the porch in a loud voice like a proclamation.

Regard him, Bess, this person, this fool, my brother, John Cyrus Bellman, for you will not clap eyes upon a greater one. From today I am numbering him among the lost and the mad. Do not expect that you will see him again, and do not wave, it will only encourage him and make him think he deserves your good wishes. Come inside now, child, close the door, and forget him.

For a long time Bess stood, ignoring the words of her aunt Julie, watching her father ride away.

In her opinion he did not resemble any kind of fool.

In her opinion he looked grand and purposeful and brave. In her opinion he looked intelligent and romantic and adventurous. He looked like someone with a mission that made him different from other people, and for as long as he was gone she would hold this picture of him in her mind: up there on his horse with his bags and his bundles and his weapons—up there in his long coat and his stovepipe hat, heading off into the west.

She did not ever doubt that she would see him again.

John Cyrus Bellman was a tall, broad, red-haired man of thirty-five with big hands and feet and a thick russet beard who made a living breeding mules.

He was educated, up to a point.

He could write, though he spelled badly. He could read slowly but quite well and had taught Bess to do the same.

He knew a little about the stars, which would help when it came to locating himself in the world at any given moment. And should that knowledge ever prove too scanty or deficient, he had recently purchased a small but, he hoped, reliable compass, which he showed to Bess before he left—a smooth, plum-sized instrument in a polished ebony case, which when the time came, he promised, would point him with its quivering blue needle, home.

A week ago he had ridden out to his sister, Julie’s, and stood on her clean scrubbed floor, shifting his weight from one large foot to the other while she plucked a hen at the table.

Julie, I am going away, he’d said in as bold and clear a voice as he could muster. I would appreciate it if you’d mind Bess a little while.

Julie was silent while Bellman reached inside his coat and took from his shirt pocket the folded newspaper cutting, smoothed it out, and read it aloud, explaining to his sister what it was he intended to do.

Julie stared at him a moment, and then flipped the hen onto its back and resumed her plucking, as if the only sensible thing now was to pretend her big red-haired brother hadn’t spoken.

Bellman said he’d try to be back in a year.

"A year?"

Julie’s voice high and strangulated—as if something had gone down the wrong way and was choking her.

Bellman looked at his boots. Well, possibly a small fraction more than a year—but not more than two. And you and Bess will have the house and the livestock and I will leave the clock and Elsie’s gold ring for if you ever get into any sort of difficulty and need money, and Elmer will lend a hand with any heavy work, I’m sure, if you give him a cup of coffee and a hot dinner from time to time. Bellman took a breath. Oh, Julie, please. Help me out here. It’s a long way and the journey will be slow and difficult.

Julie started on another hen.

A blizzard of bronze and white feathers rose in a whirling cloud between them. Bellman sneezed a number of times and Julie did not say, God bless you, Cy.

Please, Julie. I am begging you.


It was a lunatic adventure, she said.

He should do something sensible with his time, like going to church, or finding himself a new wife.

Bellman said thank you but he had no interest in either of those suggestions.

The night before his departure, Bellman sat at the square pine table in his small, self-built house drinking coffee with his neighbor and sometime yard hand, Elmer Jackson.

At ten o’clock Julie arrived with her Bible and her umbrella and the small black traveling bag that had once accompanied her and Bellman and Bellman’s wife, Elsie, across the Atlantic Ocean all the way from England.

Bellman was not yet entirely packed, but he was already dressed and ready to go in his brown wool coat and a leather satchel across his front on a long buckled strap. A new black stovepipe hat sat ready on the table next to his big clasped hands.

Thank you for coming, Julie, he said. I am very grateful.

Julie sniffed. I see you still intend to go.

I do, yes.

And where is your poor soon-to-be-orphaned little girl?

Bess, said Bellman, was asleep in her bed over there in the corner behind the curtain.

He asked Julie if she would like coffee and Julie said she supposed she could drink a cup.

I was just telling Elmer here, Julie, about the route I plan to take.

Julie said she wasn’t interested in his route. Julie said why did men always think it was interesting to discuss directions and the best way to get from A to B? She leaned her umbrella against the wall, laid her Bible on the table, and sat down in front of her coffee, took a stocking out of her black traveling bag and began to darn it.

Bellman leaned in a little closer towards his neighbor.

You see, Elmer, I’ve been looking at some maps. There aren’t many, but there are one or two. At the subscription library over in Lewistown they have an old one by a person called Nicholas King and a not so old one by a Mr. David Thompson of the British North West Company, but they are both full of gaps and empty spaces and question marks. So on balance I think I’m better off relying on the journals of the old President’s expedition, the one undertaken by the two famous captains—they’re full of sketches and little dotted trails that show the best way through the tangle of rivers in the west and also the path over the Stony Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, should I need to continue that far.

Elmer Jackson belched softly. He looked up from his coffee with watery, bloodshot eyes. What expedition? What famous captains?

Oh, Elmer, come now. Captain Lewis and Captain Clark. With their big team of scouts and hunters. They journeyed all the way to the Pacific Ocean and back at the old President’s bidding. You don’t recall?

Elmer Jackson shrugged and said maybe he did, he wasn’t sure.

Well they did, Elmer. Seven thousand miles, two and a half years, there and back, and I’m thinking my best bet is to follow the path they took, more or less, and then diverge from it here and there, to explore where they didn’t, in the hope that I can find my way to what I’m looking for.


Julie made an irritated, tsking sound with her tongue, and Jackson belched softly a second time. Bellman rubbed his big hands together. His face was pink with enthusiasm and excitement. He reached for a pickle jar from the shelf above Jackson’s head.

Imagine, Elmer, that this pickle jar is this house, here in Pennsylvania.

He set the jar in front of Jackson, at the far right-hand edge of the table. And over here—if I might commandeer your coffee cup, Elmer, for a moment—is the town of St. Louis.

He set down Jackson’s coffee cup a little to the left of the pickle jar.

From where we are now—he tapped the pickle jar—to St. Louis—he tapped the coffee cup—is about eight hundred miles.

Elmer Jackson nodded.

And way over here—Jackson’s watery, bloodshot eyes followed Bellman’s hands as they lifted his tall new hat into a position over on the far left edge of the table—"are the Stony Mountains, also known as the Rocky ones.

So. All that’s needed is for me to travel first to St. Louis, where I will cross the Mississippi River and from there—he began walking his fingers in a long arc that started at the coffee cup and curved up and across the large and vacant space in the middle of the table in the direction of the hat—I will follow the Missouri River, as the two captains did, towards the mountains.

Elmer Jackson observed that relative to the eight hundred miles between the pickle jar and the coffee cup, the journey along the Missouri looked to be a big one.

"Oh it is, Elmer, yes. A very big one. I reckon about two thousand miles. Except it will be longer, because as I said, I will be diverging. Yes I will. I’ll be straying from it quite a bit as I go along so I can have a look in some of the big empty areas the two captains didn’t get to."

Jackson, whose own forty-year-old life so far had been a slow, meandering, and sometimes circular journey via a succession of gristmills, foundries, breweries, and a stint of soldiering, let go of a long whistle. He told Bellman he’d never taken him for such an adventurer. "And after the

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  • (4/5)
    Rating: 3.9* of fiveA lovely little book, a slip of a thing that has the gravitas of a far longer book in a far more concentrated and sharp novella.I can't blame anyone for finding the story sad, it surely is; but with an ending so deeply felt and so beautifully wrought that the most size-conscious reader can't come away feeling gypped. Old Woman from a Distance is a beautifully rendered portrait of The Survivor; Bellman is the portrait of The Fool. Deveraux and Aunt Julie are sides of the coin that Elmer and Hollinghurst steal with simple, transparent tricks. I knew I'd loathe Aunt Julie on p23:After a month {Bess} asked her Aunt Julie if they could go to the library so she could look at the big journals of the President's Expedition and see the path her father had taken into the west, but Aunt Julie only looked at her in a kind of irritated amazement."And when, child," Bellman's sister demanded to know, "do you suppose I have time to sit in a library?Yeah, no. We ain't a-gonna be book-besties, me'n'Julie, no way no how. Nor does Bess find much to love in her father's sister:Aunt Julie said what a pretty girl Dorothy had turned into and she wouldn't be surprised if Sidney {a rich-but-loutish boy Bess told off some time ago} and Dorothy weren't a married pair a few years from now. What did Bess think of that?Bess said she thought nothing of it. Bess said that was the last thing in the world she'd think of thinking about.Aunt Julie in a nutshell; Bess to the teeth an anti-Julie like anti-matter to baryonic matter. A horrible life to live, one with someone who simply isn't capable of connecting with you. But worse is to come, as we know. When events unspool in the second half of the book and several separate tragedies unfold, it's Author Davies's skill at telling the story that keeps pages turning. You see, this is a tale told, not a life lived in prose. This book is the well-written story of the story. It's a distancing narrative strategy. I don't mind it too awful terrible much when the sentences are lovely and the paragraphs lead me to the finish line without becoming arch, or unfocused. Archness is perhaps the bigger danger, since Author Davies is an experienced hand at writing short stories (eg, [Some New Ambush], [The Redemption of Galen Pike]). In fact, this feels like a novella that sprang from a short story which simply couldn't contain the entire necessary plot.So I'm a fraction off ecstatic, but on the high end of very well pleased, at the end of the read. I recommend it to anyone who needs a dose of a truly spunky and resourceful character (Bellman) and a stern, steely hero (Bess) who meet their fates without a single illusion between them and reality. The illusions have all burned away. This explains their differing ends.
  • (3/5)
    This book is a fever dream of a story and the only good that happens is that everything that could go badly doesn't, quite.
  • (4/5)
    This lean, offbeat novella, landed right in my wheelhouse. It follows, Cy Bellman, who leaves his young daughter on a farm in PA, to explore the great wilderness, beyond the Mississippi River, to track down a woolly mammoth and other monsters hiding in the great beyond. Creatures, that Lewis & Clark failed to discover. The writing is spare and rugged. Nothing sugar-coated or romanticized and she captures the tone of this harsh landscape, with impressive deftness.
  • (5/5)
    John Cyrus Bellman left his Lewiston, PA farm and his only child to embark on a quest into the west. He knew he would be gone at least two years. Was he a fool, like his sister judged, or romantic and adventurous, as he appeared to his daughter Bess? Bellman's desire to see undiscovered country was rooted in a longing to find the living creatures whose huge bones had been discovered in Kentucky. He had already crossed an ocean, from England to America, built a farm, had a child, and lost a wife. But the West beckoned with its mysteries and he could no longer stay put.Bellman studied the Lewis and Clark Expedition maps at the subscription library. His plan was to follow their trail...but to diverge into the vast spaces they had left unstudied. He was certain he would find the mammoth creatures alive. He packed up trading items and set off on his journey, leaving his daughter and farm to his sister's care.Carys Davies novel West takes readers across hostile landscapes both wild and settled. As Bellman faces cruel winters and lean seasons, accompanied only by a Native American boy, back in Lewistown his daughter Bess survives in an isolated land without parental love or friends. Bess dreams of her father's travels, longing to see the library maps herself. And, unprotected in the world, as Bess nears puberty, men watch her and wait and scheme.Bellman's decision to go on his journey seemed to me at once a quest and an escape, resulting in a "night sea journey" recognition of what he had given up in leaving his known world. He struggles with the choices he made, realizing that sometimes we set our mind on what seems important only to realize we have been mistaken in our values.The novel is beautifully written. I received a free ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
  • (5/5)
    Pretty good until the end when I simply didn’t buy the violence.
  • (3/5)
    Cy Bellman is a mule breeder from England who has settled in Pennsylvania with his wife Elsie and sister Julie. Elsie died after giving birth to their daughter Bess. When Bess is 10, Bellman suddenly becomes obsessed with newspaper accounts of the discovery of dinosaur bones in Kentucky. He believes that the giant creatures might still exist, undiscovered in the unexplored territories of the west. So the fool sets out on his folly to find the beasts, leaving Bess with her unpleasant aunt and at the mercy of a pervy librarian and an even pervier neighbor. Bellman goes into a 2-year trek into the west and eventually purchases the services of a guide, a 17 year old Swanee boy named Old Woman From a Distance.This novella alternated between the story of Bellman, the inexperienced explorer, and that of Bess, who now has no one to protect her. The book had a fable-like quality, but I found the story very slight. It touched on atrocities against the Native Americans in such a trivial fashion. I'm curious about what attracted a British author to this subject, which she certainly didn't treat with any depth. I'd like to know what happens after the book ends to Old Woman From a Distance, who is the hero of this book, and to Bess, who is very resilient. However, I'm really not sure whether I would read more by this author. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
  • (4/5)
    This story set in the 1800 in the undeveloped American West, is beautifully written. But the setting brought to mind cultural appropriation as the author is from Wales, living in England. Better that the setting was a true fictional place rather than relying on preconceived ideas of a real setting.
  • (4/5)
    This novel (novella?) looks at American westward exploration and expansion in a very different way. Cy Bellman is a dreamer of the wildest variety--and even he doesn't realize it until he is dying. He has given everything to meet his dreams head on.He and his wife and sister immigrated from England to the US, ending up on a mule farm in Pennsylvania. It is there their daughter Bess is born. His wife's death leaves him plodding through life--he loves Bess, he runs the farm, and he dreams of more. What "more" might be he doesn't know, until he reads about the huge animals whose bones are found in Kentucky. He is determined to see the living animals. He meets Old Woman (a 16-year-old Native boy/man who grew up in Pennsylvania but whose tribe was forced west), who becomes his traveling companion/guide/hunter. He promises to be back to Bess and his sister Julie (who becomes Bess; guardian) in a year or two. He has severely underestimated the winters and his ability to just as he has underestimated Old Woman's honesty and ability. The ending to this story is perfect. I was so worried about what might happen to Old Woman, to Bess, to the characters Davies drew. But it works perfectly, honestly, and believably. I randomly found this on Hoopla, I'm not sure how I missed it upon publication! This book felt a lot like Hernan Diaz's In The Distance to me, but it is also very different. Both feature and immigrant with big goals traveling the west--but their reasons are very different, their successes similar.
  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    West begins with a wonderful premise, a good cast of characters, and some lovely language. Then it ends. And I'm not sure how I feel about that. Part of me thinks, I could've stayed with these characters for a full 300 pages. I would've endured the journey wherever it took me. Surely this story could've gone on longer. Then again, I'm not sure. There's such a thing as a story stretched too thin, and I think West could've been a victim of this had it been much longer. Perhaps it is too long as it is. Maybe West isn't too short for a novel, but too long for a short story. The final fourth of this novella does wane a bit. I'm not sure what side of the fence I fall on, but something feels off about it and I think it has to do with length.Overall, West is a wonderfully quick and entertaining read. The premise really sells this book. In the early 1800s, a father goes on a quest to find monstrous beasts whose bones have recently been unearthed. He leaves his daughter behind to begin her own quest into womanhood. It's a wonderful idea and I think Carys Davies pulls it off exceptionally well. I'm curious to see what else Davies can do, long or short.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Carys Davies is a gifted storyteller! This heartwarming tale of a father heading west to chase an elusive dream, a daughter left behind dreaming of his return, and a Native American youth trying to make sense of his world upended, is entrancing from the start. As the reader, I felt charmed, felt dread, felt relief, felt bemused and more. This is a tale of dreaming, of harsh realities, of the dashing of hope, of peace and wonder.I was left wondering how today's dreamers fulfill their adventurous drive to explore on a planet without new frontiers?

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    From Pennsylvania to Kentucky, that is the goal of Bellman after reading in newspapers the discovery of some hugemamal bones. A widower, he leaves his ten year old daughter in the care of his taciturn sister, planning to be gone two years or so. Hiring a young Indian boy with the stange name Old woman from a distance, he sets out into unknown territory. Bess,tries to follow her father's journey n maps she located in the library. While Bellman finds dangers in the cold, harsh winters with it's lack of food, his daughter encounters danger of a different kind.Man's curiousity, and the quest to find something larger than ones own life has been the basis for many adventurers and explorers. This novel is gorgeously told, the wonderful and the characters ters treated with a great deal of empathy. A short story that contains much, a story filled with both wonder and danger. As Bellman thinks to himself, trying to explain his willingness to leave his daughter and his home"Now he wondered if it was because it seemed possible that, through the giant animals,a door into the mystery of the world would somehow be opened. There were times,out here in the west, when helay downstairs night and, wrapped in his coat, he'd look up at the sky, it's wash of stars, gaze up at the bright, broken face of the moon and wonder what might be up there too,---what he'd find if he could just decide a way of getting up there to look."There are some great descriptions of the natural world he encounters, and a yearning in his thoughts to be more, see more. Another quiet story that encompasses the feelings of those who leave and those who stay behind.ARC from Edelweiss.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    WEST seems like a simple enough story. A man learns about dinosaur bones from a newspaper and decides that he must find out if these creatures still exist in the vast unknown wilderness of the 18th century American West. Davies uses this simple premise to create a deceptively complex and interesting novel that has more in common with fables than it does with big historical novels. Using the sparest of language and many first person narratives, she creates something that is quite magical more for what is left unsaid than for what is said. Her dual protagonists—the one who leaves (Cy Bellman) and the one who stays behind (daughter Bess)—tell the story from both fronts. The added narrations from minor characters give the novel the flavor of a Greek chorus permitting Davies to explore a few morally ambiguous questions that still resonate today.At what point does exploration become plunder and genocide? In the early 18th century, Native Americans were migrated out of the places that the Whites wanted in exchange for useless trinkets. Bellman was looking for creatures that long ago became extinct accompanied by a Shawnee guide—“Old Woman From A Distance”—whose people also were being threatened with extinction. Through his first person narrative, Davies shows this Native American boy to be more complex than the racist stereotype prevalent at the time and characterized by the frontier fixer, Devereux. Not unlike the Palestinians of today, “Woman” not only was angry about how his people were being treated but also clear-eyed about what would be necessary for them to survive. “Remember, there are no gods,” he thinks. “We have ourselves and nothing else.”When does ambition and curiosity become pure folly? Bellman articulates a rationale for his curious quest as follows: “You had so many ways of deciding which way to live your life. It made his head spin to think of them. It hurt his heart to think that he had decided on the wrong way.” Bellman’s curiosity was not unlike that of all geniuses—exploring the unknown is in our nature. Davies, notwithstanding, is able to humanize Bellman by giving him some more self-centered reasons for leaving his home and daughter in the care of his cold spinster sister, Julie: boredom with his small community, disappointment with excessive family commitments, weariness with mule breeding, and especially grieving for his recently deceased wife. Clearly, Bellman’s quest turns into something more challenging than he initially perceived. He estimated that his excursion might take one year or slightly more, but never the time it actually took. In the end, one sees Cy Bellman begin to realize the hardships that the West presented and the shear folly of his quest.What does it take for hope to become despair? Bess clearly adores her father and is heartbroken by his leaving. But she keeps hope alive by following what she believes to be his travels by reading about the now famous Lewis and Clark expedition in the local subscription library. Bellman tries to maintain a correspondence with Bess but never learns that his letters don’t make it to her. Nonetheless Bess never abandons hope that Bellman would return until the end of the novel when Davies works in a remarkable twist that would be too much of a spoiler to reveal. Bess eventually sees that her father will not be coming home through some adornments that make their way beck to her in a most interesting way.The writing is lucid and lyrical often resembling poetry. The narrative is as fast-paced as a short story, leaving much to be inferred. Of particular note is Davies’ use of common items to show just how tenuous life was both in more settled Pennsylvania and in the vast Western wilderness. Of course the stovepipe hat plays a starring role serving as a dominance icon for the “savages.” Other items with prominent roles include his wife’s striped blouse and knitting needles. The items he takes reveal also his naïve expectations and include a few weapons, an overcoat, and a box of trinkets for trade. The only insurance policy he leaves with Bess and Julie is his wife’s gold wedding ring.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    Inspired by a newspaper article about the discovery of mammoth bones, a widower leaves his home and young daughter in Pennsylvania in the care of his sister to follow Lewis & Clark's path into the West, determined to find the creatures he thinks may still be living out there somewhere. With the help of a young Indian guide, he navigates the wilderness, learning much about the country, its flora and fauna, and himself. Back home, his daughter copes with the inevitabilities of growing up female in the 19th century, while trying to imagine her father's experiences and hoping for his safe return. The ending is of the "that's exactly right" variety ---not happy, but fortuitous and just. Recommended.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    A decade or so after the Lewis and Clark expedition, Pennsylvania widower Cy Bellman is captivated by their description of one of their discoveries ‘…monstrous bones…sunk in the salty Kentucky mud’. He becomes obsessed with the idea that the huge creatures that left these bones might still be found somewhere out in the far west and is determined to find them. Despite all the predictions from neighbours and family that he is embarking on a fool’s errand that will surely end in his death, he can only say ‘I have to go. I have to go and see. That’s all I can tell you. I have to’. He leaves his ten-year-old daughter, Bess, in the care of his sister and sets out on a journey that will take him across thousands of miles. Along the way, he hires a guide, a young Shawnee boy and the pair develop a very complex relationship, one that transcends their lack of common language. When I saw West, the debut novel, by author Carys Davies offered on Netgalley, I will admit it was the cover more than the description that caught my eye. And I will also admit I doubted the story would match the promise of that art but oh, that cover! So did the novel match the promise? In a word, yes. West is a beautifully written often lyrical and completely engrossing story. It is quite short, more novella than novel but it carries quite a punch. It alternates between Bellman’s story and Bess’, a lonely girl who must fend off dangers of her own after her father’s departure. But it is the relationship between Bellman and the Shawnee boy – sort of Don Quixote set in the early 19th c. American west - that kept me glued to the pages.Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review

    1 person found this helpful