Tirzah and the Prince of Crows by Deborah Kay Davies

Tirzah and the Prince of Crows

Deborah Kay Davies

This story of Tirzah, a teenager on the cusp of adulthood in a 1970's Welsh valley community, is so richly detailed that it reads as though the words have been embroidered directly onto the page. The book tells of Tirzah's struggles with chapel conservatism in a male dominated community and her ensuing rebellion with all that surrounds her. It is a story vividly told, reflecting its roots in Welsh folklore.


The three of them sit down to Sunday afternoon tea. Her father has apologised for cursing, though it's obvious he blames his wife. Out in the street, children are playing football and hopscotch. Tirzah wishes she were younger and still played games outside. She wishes she were someone else's child, allowed to do such things on a Sunday. She wishes her parents said damn more often. And bloody, and sod. Her mother has been crying, but still briskly eats a tinned half-peach coated in evaporated milk with a tiny spoon, her mouth opening only slightly for each lacquered orange chunk. Now and then she dips a folded piece of bread and butter fussily into the clouded syrup in her bowl and takes a nibble. Tirzah knows exactly what she is expressing by eating a huge and lengthy meal. It is exactly what Tirzah would do: See how much I care. I am not even put off my food. This is because I am right. The clock on the dresser ticks unevenly, and her father, peach untouched, sips from a cup too small for his hands, elbows on the table.
There is a thud on the window, and he rushes out to the front door, spilling tea on the white tablecloth. Tirzah can hear him yelling at the children. He's confiscated their ball again. Be off with you! he shouts. Haven't you got homes to go to? This is the Lord's Day. Tirzah and her mother exchange looks.

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