Friday, 1 October 2010
Hello All, I now bring to you the first in my series of book reviews for my "Favourites Fortnight". It was only last October that I first read this little beauty of a book and I'll be damned if I've not read chunks of it four times already. (After writing this review I just had a massive urge to re-read it *again* and I got 144 pages in and then my internet came on so obviously I was distracted :P)
But anyways without further ado!
Author: Mary-Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Date: 22/9/2010 AM (re-read)
Description: “ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…. (Description taken from Goodreads)
If you haven't heard about this book I'm just gonna assume you spent the last two years under a sound-proofed rock and tell you all about it. If you have heard of it and better yet *read* it then you can have a cookie.
It's not very often that I pick up a book and enjoy it so much that it actually affects my education - I kid you not after I read this I was so intrigued by the German Occupation of Guernsey that I did a presentation on it for my Uni french speaking class- yea no one else was interested but I enjoyed researching it for myself. The book paints such a fascinating image of the islands in their Post-War/Occupation state that you just want to know what life was like for the inhabitants during that terrible time.
Another thing which I totally adore about this book is the epistolary format - I find letter-writing to be a saddeningly diminished institution so reading books made up of letters is wonderful. The characters in TGLAPPPS (I *had* to abbreviate it) are beyond fabulous to follow through their respective letters, Juliet's self-deprecating sense of humour, Sidney's brotherly affection, Isola's zany observations, Amelia's kindness and concern, Dawsey's quiet intensity, heck even Adelaide Addison's two hilarious letters endear me to the nosy old bat (only very slightly though). You get to know and love these people and darn it if I don't wish that it was a true story because by the end you can't help but smile like a loon as the story is so uplifting. Seeing how this community came together thanks to the brave and resourceful Elizabeth McKenna, and stayed together through a love of books just makes me so happy and wishful that there are real literary societies somewhere created from such a trying time.
What's also so brilliant about this book is how much of it is quotable and relatable if you're of the book-loving persuasion (so everyone here yea?). When Juliet mentions how the man she almost married had packed up eight boxes of her books and filled her shelves with sports paraphenalia, I totally agree with her outrage and anger. If anyone dared to move my books without my permission, woe betide them I would be furious!
When reading this book I find myself nodding along when someone writes something that I agree with whole-heartedly; the kinship between two strangers when they realise they both love the same book, the urge to say "Me too!" when someone mentions a strange reading quirk they have, meeting someone through written correspondance and when actually seeing them face to face for the first time feeling like you've known them your whole life (I can certainly attest to that one being true).
I don't know if I can recall another book which creates such a heart-warming story out of a truly terrible event like World War Two so it's hats off to Mary-Ann and her niece Annie Barrows (who had to help finish the book when Mary's health failed) for writing such a wonderful book that I would be happy to re-read many times in the future and also to recommend it to any and everyone I knew to be true book-lovers (Cos I think they'd appreciate it the most).
My Rating: 5 out 5 Stars
If anyone else has any opinions or reviews of this book please link them below in the comments, I would love to see how it affected other people because I really believe that it is one of those special books that does affect people on various levels.
I hope you've enjoyed this first stop on the (short) list of my all-time favourite books and do drop by tomorrow when I'll be reviewing the Protecter of the Small quartet by Tamora Pierce!