When my sister Emily asked me to join “Write About Nothing”, my first thought was that I'm not really a writer. This will become evident as more posts follow, however, I am absolutely an avid reader. A fact to which the odd day of neglect toward my family may attest.
I love discussing every book I read, whether I enjoyed them or not. I also feel as though I can really get to know those around me when we discuss literature: similar likes and dislikes, ideas, experiences, strong opinions or quiet indifference. A sincere bonding takes place when these thoughts and feelings are shared between readers, and of course friends. My book club meeting is the highlight of my month, where I have formed lasting relationships with each of these dear friends.
Due to my love for my own book club, I was able to find an immediate appreciation for my latest read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. What a wonderful novel!!!
The story takes place as England is recovering from World War II and is written as a series of letters between a popular author Juliet, her best friend, and her publisher. When she receives a letter from a stranger, Dawsey Adams, from the island of German occupied Guernsey, a new friendship develops. A friendship with not only Dawsey, but also every member of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. As Juliet learns more about the courage of their founding member Elizabeth, and how the sharing of literature helped the members find friendship and moments of happiness during such a trying time, she decides to travel to Guernsey herself.
Reading this story was a true delight. The format being in letters allowed the character’s personalities to shine through and I found myself connecting easily with each of them, along with their little eccentricities.
Here are a few quotes to give a glimpse into the charm of the book:
“My name is Dawsy Adams, and I live on my farm in St. Martin’s Parish on Guernsey. I know of you because I have an old book that once belonged to you – the “Selected Essays of Elia”, by an author whose name in real life was Charles Lamb. Your name and address were written inside the front cover.”(9)
“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that 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”. (11, 12)
“None of us had any experience with literary societies, so we made our own rules: we took turns speaking about the books we’d read. At the start, we tried to be calm and objective, but that soon fell away, and the purpose of the speakers was to goad the listeners into wanting to read the book themselves. Once two members had read the same book, they could argue, which was our great delight. We read books, talked books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another….we could almost forget now, now and then, then darkness outside.” (51)
“My guides are as various as the sights. Isola tells me about cursed pirated chests bound with bleached bones washing up on the beaches…Eben describes how things used to look…Dawsey says the least, but takes me to see wonders…Then he stands back and lets me enjoy them as long as I want. He’s the most un-hurrying person I’ve ever met.” (165)