Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

I Wanna Live in Guernsey

on September 27, 2011

SPOILER ALERTS! I don’t usually include spoilers but halfway through writing this I realized I was spoiling certain things. So beware!

“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

To start let me state this simply. I LOVED this book. I read it in 2 days. I then opened it back up again to read again the next day. I’ve had to fight off the urge to read it before bed because I know I won’t go to sleep.

For starters, the book is written in a style I really like. Rather than your typical narrative the story is presented in a series of letters written back and forth between all the characters. What is so great about this style is how the voice of the book keeps changing. I become quickly attached to many of the characters thanks to their writing styles. Reading through all these letters made me a little sad that this method of correspondence is disappearing in our society. No one really sits down and writes letters on paper to people anymore. Granted we have e-mail and various other media but I feel like there’s a certain something that makes a hand-written letter more special (I think I’ll write a letter to my aunt in England who shuns computers).

The other reason I love the book is how well the various scenes are described. A significant portion of the book takes place on the Isle of Guernsey part of the Channel Islands south of England. The primary letter writer (Juliet) regularly describes scenes looking out over the water. In my mind they look something like this:

I went to visit family in southern England a few years ago and this book helped trigger so many memories of that trip.

There is a certain humbling quality to the book as well…hmmm…humbling might not be the word I want. The book takes place right after the end of World War II. It discusses the bombings that hit England and the German occupation of the channel islands. There is even a story arc involving the holocaust. It’s a reminder that many people have been through many hard even impossible times but they’ve survived. It also reminds me that certain things may not be going right the way I want right now but people have been through much worse and kept their heads up. So suck it up because my life isn’t bad at all.

The book isn’t just imagery and tellings of life after the war there is an actual plot to follow.  I was instantly drawn to Juliet and found myself wanting to warn her when I was afraid she was going to make an obviously poor decision. Or hoping that by the end of the book she sees what will make her completely contented that I can already see. I didn’t just want to cheer for the main character, other supporting characters in the book tug at my heart strings just as much. I’d love to sit and have tea with so many of them.

So two thumbs way up for this book. It really draws you in and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts I love when books do this. This one went a step further for me. I felt a strong urge to go visit Guernsey and a little part of me, as I mentioned above, really wants to live there.

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4 responses to “I Wanna Live in Guernsey

  1. Amanda says:

    I just finished my blog post for tomorrow and then read your post. I completely agree with everything you said, especially the part about the letters. I was going to mention it too but I forgot. Glad you included it! I read everyone in a different voice too.

  2. […] I Wanna Live in Guernsey (ourviewfromhere.wordpress.com) […]

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  4. ClaireMcA says:

    Loved this book and bought many copies for friends and family.

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