Written by Mary Ann Schaffer & Annie Barrows
Book #4 of 2012
This was a beautiful book! It was composed entirely of letters, which was very unusual, and it gave you a whole new perspective. You were able to know the characters much better than would otherwise be allowed, because you were reading their innermost thoughts and most raw feelings. The book was set (mostly) on the island of Guernsey, a Channel Island, right after World War II. It talks about the war, the effect it had on the island and the people, even the people of London a bit, and how they formed a “literary society,” aka book club, to keep themselves out of trouble, and ultimately to help cope with the war. There was even a little love woven in. It made me laugh, it made my cry, it made me so angry I wanted to spit. It made my sympathize and it made me understand. And it opened my eyes.
“I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.” (Location 148)
“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.” (Location 177)
“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” (Location 193)
“I realized that hundreds of thousands of people all over Europe must be fed, housed, and clothed, but privately I resent it that so many are Germans.” (Location 277)
I thought about this particular quote for a while. How often do I have secret anger towards someone who has wronged me? How often do I hold an entire group responsible for only a small percentage’s faults? The answer is quite often. I do it all the time.
“Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life.” (Location 754)
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.” (Location 763)
“I think you learn more if you’re laughing at the same time.” (Location 1241)
“And down the street – I’m not averting my eyes now – a man in a patched jumper is painting the door to his house sky blue. Two small boys, who have been walloping one another with sticks, are begging him to let them help. He is giving them a tiny brush apiece. So – perhaps there is an end to war.” (Location 1372)
“Not even the Germans could ruin the sea.” (Location 1452)
“This summer, gorse will begin to grow around the fortifications, and by next year, perhaps vines will creep over them. I hope they are soon covered. For all I can look away, I will never be able to forget how they were made.” (Location 1453)
“I turned to a man sitting against a fence nearby and called out, ‘We’re saved! It’s the British!’ Then I saw he was dead. He had only missed it by minutes. I sat down in the mud and sobbed as though he’d been my best friend.” (Location 2077)
“This obsession with dignity can ruin your life if you let it.” (Location 2764)
There were a few things that struck me as I was reading. One, the main character, Juliet, was a woman of strong character. She was asked for a character reference, and instead of asking someone who liked her to give her reference, she asked, also, someone who despised her, just for a well-rounded view. What kind of character would one have to have for that kind of transparency?
There was a man named Christian in the book, who we never met but was referenced quite a bit, who was a German soldier, but a good man. I wonder, could I look past the horrors of a man’s countrymen to the heart of the individual, and not judge him for his nationality, or the fact that he was a soldier in an enemy’s army? Honestly, I don’t know. That would have to be one outstanding man.
Just one last note – it seemed to me that the islanders needed outside influence to come onto their small island, so they could heal. They were all broken, wallowing in their own misery and memories. Juliet allowed them to heap their sorrows onto her, and channel those horrors into a healthy outlet. Her, and her outside influence, were this island’s saving grace.
I thought this book was lovely. It was witty and morose, clever and heart-wrenching. I would definitely recommend it for a historical, emotional read.
**Dawsey Adams is a new favorite character of mine. He’s one of the most handsome characters I’ve ever read about. He’s quiet, and compassionate, and kind, but has this overwhelming manliness about him. He has the power of persuasion down to an art, but rarely uses the talent. And he has a winning smile and grey eyes (not unlike my Ian).
Happy reading, friends.
p.s. As you can see by the format of this post, I’m becoming more comfortable with wordpress.com. Yay me!
- Sadly every book has to end *sigh* – “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” (readingthroughthebs.wordpress.com)
- Review (long overdue!): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafer and Anne Barrows (breiwilson.com)
- post card from guernsey (ourownsweettime.com)
- Welcome to Guernsey!!! (summityarnstudio.wordpress.com)