Thursday, July 01, 2010

Go Guernsey!

There is certainly no shortage of people who have adored this book, and I'm no different! I absolutely loved it. For the heck of it, I'll throw out a short blurb:

Juliet is a writer, she stumbles upon a story of the German occupation of the Channel Islands in WWII, and she visits, makes new friends, and generally has a big ole life change come upon her thanks to her new letter-writing friends.

I admit, I had a hard time getting into this book for the first few pages. It's written in epistolary form, and the pieces come together slowly in the beginning. I couldn't decide if Sidney was a boy or a girl for a bit, I couldn't remember whose relationships were whose. However, as I read along, the characters began to come to life and take on more distinctive personalities.

My first thought, if I dare to compare this little gem to any other book, is the same atmosphere and warm-fuzziness I got from reading 84 Charing Cross Road. Readers exchanging letters full of humor and good cheer makes for some darn good reading.  There's nothing I would've changed; there's nothing I felt dissatisfied about in regards to this story.

So that makes for a pretty plain review.

My biggest curiosity in reference to this book was about the authors. First, it's odd to see a book by two authors, and I had never heard of either one of them. This prompted some research, and I found a sad and sweet story all the same.

Mary Ann Shaffer started the book. She was driven to do so after she fell in love with the Channel Islands in the 1970s. Years later, after being coaxed into writing a book by her own book club, she turned to her appreciation of Guernsey. Her family and friends loved the book, but her health began to wane, so she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, to help her finish the book. Sadly, Shaffer never saw the publication of her masterpiece, but I can't imagine she'd be anything but thrilled with its warm reception.

I find it tragic that Shaffer wasn't able to enjoy the publication of her novel as much as readers have enjoyed consuming it. The story reminds me of one of my favorite singers who I (and the world) discovered posthumously: Eva Cassidy. She spent years singing in bars and clubs and it was only after her death from breast cancer that her smooth, bluesy voice became widely recognized.

If you're like me and you've held off reading this book, waste time no more! Go grab it now. You'll want to give me something shiny for the recommendation.

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