I can only imagine that I have no blog friends left. Not only have I disappeared from my blog for almost two weeks (SharePoint class, someone please help me!), but I have also abandoned Jane Bennet in the hedgerow, waiting for one of her suitors (for she has several) to declare his love for her.
One of the reasons why I’ve been missing: I have been totally transfixed for the last two days reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Yes, I am well aware that I am probably the last person on earth to discover this wonderful book. And I am appalled that I waited so long to read it. Especially after reading the perfectly wretched: The Writing Class last week… which totally wasted my time and energy.
Juliet Ashton is a writer of humour (in a Stella Gibbons kind of way, though without Seth and Reuben or the woodshed) living in a dingy flat in bombed-out post WWII London. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from a stranger living on the Channel island of Guernsey seeking information about Charles Lamb, and, as the book flap says, the ensuing correspondence with the intimates of this island changes her life forever.
I give it 4-3/4 stars out of five. I had to take off 1/2 a star because I’ve seen certain aspects of this story before, (take special note of the girl on the bicycle, and the German law student) but I put 1/4 of a star back because with the island only being seven miles long and with so few people living there, some of the incidences were, most likely, pretty common occurrences for some of the inhabitants.
The book now has a place of honor in my Jane Austen Toolbox: books every Austenite should read or own simply because of the number of times the character’s in it mention Jane Austen in conversation or elude to actions in one of Jane Austen’s books. Plus, the book does have an amazingly warm, sumptuous, Jane Austen vibe about it: Two or three families in a country village, unrequited love, bitting humor, a misunderstanding…
And there I was on my lunch break today (and hour long, stretching it out to an hour and a half) crying my eyes out, hoping nobody noticed…
My favorite passage:
Yes, I’m here. Mark did his best to stop me, but I resisted him mulishly, right to the bitter end. I always considered doggedness one of my least appealing characteristics, but it was valuable last week.
It was only as the boat pulled away, and I saw him standing on the pier, tall and scowling–and somehow wanting to marry me–that I began to think maybe he was right. Maybe I am a complete idiot. I know of three women who are mad for him–he’ll be snapped up in a trice, and I’ll spend my declining years in a grimy bed-sit, with my teeth falling out one by one. Oh, I can see it all now: No one will buy my books, and I’ll ply Sidney with tattered, illegible manuscripts, which he’ll pretend to publish out of pity. Doddering and muttering, I’ll wander the streets carrying my turnips in a string bag, with newspapers tucked into my shoes. You’ll send me affectionate cards at Christmas (won’t you?) and I’ll brag to strangers that I was once nearly engaged to Markham Reynolds, the publishing tycoon. They’ll shake their heads–The poor old thing’s crazy as a bedbug, of course, but harmless.
Oh God. This way lies insanity.
Guernsey is beautiful and my new friends have welcomed so generously, so warmly, that I haven’t doubted I’ve done right to come here–until just a moment ago, when I started thinking about my teeth. I’m going to stop thinking about them. I’m going to step into the meadow of wildflowers right outside my door and run to the cliff as fast as I can. Then I’m going to fall down and look at the sky, which is shimmering like a pearl this afternoon, and breathe in the warm scent of grass and pretend that Markham V. Reynolds doesn’t exist.
I’ve just come back indoors. It’s hours later–the setting sun has rimmed the clouds in blazing gold and the sea is moaning at the bottom of the cliffs. Mark Reynold? Who’s he?
Ahhhh! And who said Epistolary novels don’t work?