Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I haven't posted too many reading choices lately, as I kind of quit keeping track of the numbers. I got rather bored of it, and was reading so quickly that I just didn't want to stop.

However, I must point out this little gem of a book, which I stumbled upon while trying to find a cheap audio book for my state car. This little baby never saw one second of state car travel, I've listened to it all week in my own travels in my own car. It's been a crazy week of back and forth with work and extra-curriculars, so I've had lots of time to get to know the inhabitants of the post-WWII England that Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have created in this exquisite tome.

No, there is no speech to florid that will possibly describe how wonderful I thought this book was. It is an epistolary novel--that is, all written in letters between the main characters. The story centers around Juliet, an author in London who receives a letter from a gentleman on Guernsey inquiring about a book of hers that he has come into posession of. They begin corresponding about the experience of Guernsey's occupation by the Nazis.

I can't comment too much, as I've actually chosen this book for my book club selection in the coming year and we aren't discussing it until next summer, but the book deals with the power of literature to transform people's lives under even the most dire circumstances, and deals with themes of courage, goodness, honesty, love, and hope. It's got its harrowing Holocaust parts, but refuses to stray into too much devastation and at the same time refrains from becoming overly sentimental.

I read the audio version, which was performed by a stellar ensemble cast of 5 voice actors, and I strongly recommend it as a wonderful way to read the story. I was chewing on my cheek through most of it, commanding myself not to cry. Not because of sorrow but because this book is truly worthy of the word poignant without any of the negative connotations (saccharine, cloying) the term poignant can suggest.

If you have a couple of hours to devote to a really great book, make it this one. Seriously. I am researching a trip to Guernsey as I type, dreaming of seeing it for myself, all based on this little book. A must read for Anglophiles and literature lovers alike.

2 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Sarah said...

I can't wait to read it now!! I ended up getting it off of amazon (that and Lace Reader were too new for me to get from swaptree) and should be receiving it within a day or so...

Lauren said...

So...maybe I can borrow the audiobook? :D