My internetlessness enabled me to finish – very guiltily – a borrowed book which should have been returned ages ago. I only made the effort because of being strongly urged by my nearest and dearest to do so. I mean, look at it! Does the title inspire you to grab it and guzzle? Does a dip inside, revealing a never-ending spate of correspondence, urge you to read it? And then you discover that if you do happen to like it, the main author died not long after it came out, so no more can be expected from that source.
Should you then explore the net to determine whether it is worth the effort, you will come across a chat between some learned critics where they rip it to pieces and one lovely lady – with a shudder – describes it using that utterly damning word ‘twee’ meaning dainty, affected, or oversweet and sentimental.
Nevertheless, I read it, and found that my misgivings were as misguided as the ‘twee’ woman is. What a lovely read! All in letters, as I mentioned, (except for a brief diary extract near the end) this is a delightful book about delightful characters. It introduces without downplaying, but also without wallowing unduly in the horror of them (as the critics would apparently have liked her to do), the German occupation of Guernsey during WW2 and the consequent misery of occupiers and residents alike, as well as bringing in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Mainly, though, it follows a writer who after the war starts a correspondence with a member of the ‘Literary Society’ – started as a cover-up for an illicit feast on pork – and then becomes so wrapped up in writing to a number of residents that she interrupts a budding romance to go and visit there.
If you are not already among the millions who have read and loved it, I strongly urge you to get this book. It is a marvel.
© Colonialist June 2011 (Letterdash/WordPress)