Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

My goodness, it looks like I haven't done any reading in over a month!  I took a trip to my birthplace in March and was completely absorbed in researching my ancestors, exploring the towns where they lived and experiencing the area as it is today.  I did pick up a couple books and will try and catch up on logging my reading for the past several weeks.

This book was a gem.  Told as a series of letters between a newspaper columnist who wrote upbeat pieces during WWII in London and the inhabitants of Guernsey, an island off the coast of England, it educates and inspires.  During the war, the island was occupied by the Germans for several years and the people there were isolated from news with dwindling food and supplies.

We're treated to a friendship, a courtship, a community of survivors that are slowly revealed in the exchange.  I delighted in the way the characters unfolded and how their quirks and personalities were so pointedly portrayed in their quick retorts and poignant stories.

Some examples:

"He's got that way of believing his opinion is the truth, but he's not disagreeable about it.  He's too sure he's right to bother being disagreeable."

"Emily [Bronte] had to make Heathcliff up out of thin air!...Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life."

The author does a masterful job of letting people reveal themselves as they tell stories of others.  I marked many pages that were tender:

"[People] thinking to comfort me, said 'Life goes on.' What nonsense, I thought, of course it doesn't, it's death that goes on."

"Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person's name suddenly pops up everywhere you go?  My friend Sophie calls it coincidence, and Mr. Simpless, my parson friend, calls it Grace.  He thinks that if one cares deeply about someone or something new one throws a kind of energy out into the world..."

The journalist ends up going to the island to gather their story, thinking it might be her next book that her publisher and friend is waiting to be drafted.  We know the trip will lead to a book and more.

A highly recommended read.

Published: 2008  Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 780385341004

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