West by Carys Davies

I have recently discovered BBC Radio 4’s ‘A Good Read’, in fact I am not sure how I have not listened to it before as I am a big fan of radio and books, so this show is ideal. However, it is dangerous for my tbr pile. And the first book I have picked up since listening to the programme is ‘West’ by Carys Davies – which has also been recommended by the author Bobby Palmer.

This book is brilliant, a short but beautifully crafted novel, that I have recently discovered was Carys Davies’ debut novel, where not a moment on the page is wasted for the reader. A story of a desire for adventure, but at the cost of a father-daughter relationship. Cy Bellman heads off on an adventure, very possibly to avoid the grief of having lost his wife, but leaves his daughter at home, despite the fact that she asks him not to leave. And this is not the only odd decision made by Cy; there is also the purchase of a certain hat.

However, Cy Bellman is not the only person journeying to and through the West. He meets different characters along the way, including a Mountain Man and Native Americans – their lives, of course, impacted by the arrival of the Europeans as they continue to spread their influence from the East Coast of America to the West. However, some very important relationships are made along the way, and one which will save Cy’s daughter, Bess, when she least expects it.

There is warmth and humour in this book, which sits side-by-side with some of the more difficut topics that Carys tackles on the pages. For me, I was questioning the ease with which Cy walked away from his daughter and left her to the mercy of the men of the town – although he provides the saviour she needs without even knowing it.

I can see exactly why this is a book that is recommended by so many. And it is one that I will be recommending too. This is a lesson in writing a small but perfectly formed novel. It is a book that I will read again, as this is a part of America’s history that I find both fascinating and incredibly sad as Europeans made their way across the country. This is a story that can start discussions, and hopefully encourage people to learn a little bit more about American history.

As this is a Carys Davies’ debut novel, from 2018, that means that I have some more books to catch up on to bring me up to date to her latest release, ‘Clear’.