by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The next time I visit Europe, I wouldn’t want to miss Channel Islands or Guernsey ever! That’s how lovely this book is! This epistolary novel had me hooked from the very first letter and before I knew I wanted to dole out letters to the many intriguing and affable characters of this book.
Juliet Ashton is the gregarious protagonist, who is an upcoming writer in the post world war II era in London. She, by some bizarre work of fate, gets in touch with the members of an oddly formed book club in Guernsey. Almost like pieces of a puzzle, her quest for a topic for her book and the lives of the book club members falls into place. The friendship thus born, through correspondence of letters leads to an unbreakable bond; And it is these letters that hold the heart of this novel.
Set in a sad time when Europe was strewn in post war trauma, this book is comfortingly sunny! The Nazi occupation of the island and the multitude of stories that encompass those years are told through the writings of various dwellers, as letters to Juliet. The formation of the book club itself was one such episode, invented on spot by the silent heroine of the novel, Elizabeth.
The letters and the impact of books on people of that era is the most wonderful thing to take away from this book. While you can imagine any character simply by their way of writing letters in itself is a warming feeling. Classics and writers like Oscar wilde, Jane austen or Charles Lamb were considered precious. Books weren’t available a plenty back then and owning books and reading them was considered a genial privilege!
The book encompasses a handful of cordial countryside folk. You would love them all the way you might have adored ‘Anne of green Gables’ and you will fall in love with Juliet, almost like one of Austen’s heroines. The appeal of the novel is the genuineness of the letters, the innocence of the lovely people and the sanguinary displayed as hope in grime times!
So go ahead, grab a warm cup of chocolate milk, light a fire, cuddle on the couch with this sweet little book and I can vouch that you will not stop smiling for a long time after you are done!