January 5, 2009
I’ve just finished my first book of the New Year, and I’m delighted to say it was one of the most enjoyable I’ve read in ages! I was so immersed in the story of these dear people on the Isle of Guernsey that I was half surprised not to find Dawsey quietly tending some pigs in the backyard or Isola wandering up the road with a basket of herbs over her arm. I’d dearly love to sit down with Juliet and talk about writing, maybe get a first glimpse into her newest book, or share a cup of tea while we watched little Kit playing happily with her paper dolls or searching through her treasure box.
I must say, there were moments in this book…moments I was just so angry at those German’s for the horrible things they did to these gentle folks! Oh I know, it was wartime, and I perhaps shouldn’t judge so harshly…but blast it all, it just wasn’t right! I nearly broke down in tears on several occasions, especially when Amelia Maugery wrote about the children being sent away for years to keep them safe, their parents not even knowing where they were!
But oh, how I’d love to visit Guernsey now, or any of these Channel Islands, as they’re called. I barely knew a thing about them before reading this book, certainly not that they were occupied by the Germans during World War II. Reading Juliet’s description of the sparkling sea and the crisp salty air, the little village shops and wonderful fresh seafood made me want to start booking reservations immediately.
Perhaps most fun of all was reading about the manner in which books not only brought them all together in their little makeshift literary society but helped them survive those hard times when food was scarcer then hen’s teeth and the threat of imprisonment (or worse!) surrounded them. As much as I love a good read (and you know I do!) books have never been more than pure entertainment to me. For the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, books were a lifeline to the future.
And I surely enjoyed the way it was written in the form of letters – not just from one person to another, but from everyone to everyone else! It sounds confusing, but it wasn’t – not a bit, actually. It made the reading even more fun, as we learned about each person from the things they wrote in their letters.
Oh – I bet you’re wondering what in the world is a potato peel pie, and what does it have to do with a literary society! Well, I’m not telling…
All in all, it was a wonderful book, dear reader. I’d love for all my friends to read it! I know you’re going to ask if you may borrow it…but if I loan you my copy you must promise to guard it carefully and return it to me promptly, for I’m quite sure I’ll be reading this one again someday.
You know, this book reminded me a bit of another book I read many years ago…I believe it’s still on my shelf somewhere…wait just a second while I run to look~
Yes! Right there…84 Charing Cross Road! It’s such a slender little volume, it’s almost lost among the bigger books on the shelf. Perhaps you’ve read it or seen the movie with Ann Bancroft? It was published in 1970, but takes place just after WWII as well, and starts out with a letter from a sassy young writer in New York to a quaint bookseller’s shop in London. And thus begins another tale of friendship (and love) conceived over the love of books. Hm, I think I’ll give this one a re-read, just because…
So I must dash, Dearest Reader, for it’s getting late and I’d love to get some reading done before the clock strikes time for bed. If only I could have whole days to luxuriate in these wonderful books!
Goodnight, and good reading…
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
published 2008, by The Dial Press, a division of Random House
by Helene Hanff
published 1970, by Avon Books, a divison of The Hearst Company