I was warned about this book. I was told many things about it before I gave it a chance.
And I loved it.
Granted, it is not the Sisterhood series. But it was similar in its life, in its loss, in its love, and in its pithy and honest embraces of the realities and cruelties and beauties of human existence.
This book explored a very basic concept, but the people in the crux of the story were what made me not want to put it down. I legitimately cared about them. I cared about Alice and Paul and Riley and their triangle. I wept (several times) for each of them and their losses. I understood Alice's behavior and appreciated the dolphins and yearned to travel to Fire Island myself this summer (It's not too far away actually).
I was annoyed at the characters at some points, and felt that it was (just a little) predictable.
Maybe I am a terrible critic because I am way too optimistic and basically love to read anything black and white and in English. Most of my peer reviews of this novel were negative.
What happened is, we grew lonely living among the things, so we gave the clock a face, the chair a back, the table four stout legs which will never suffer fatigue. We fitted our shoes with tongues as smooth as our own and hung tongues inside bells so we could listen to their emotional language, and because we loved graceful profiles the pitcher received a lip, the bottle a long, slender neck. Even what was beyond us was recast in our image; we gave the country a heart, the storm an eye, the cave a mouth so we could pass into safety.
Alright, it is only my second book of the summer, but it could very easily have been the best.
This books contains some of the most charismatic, real characters I have ever met, with a story line that was both touching and believable. It is written in a series of letters - a form I generally dislike, since I lose track of whom the letter is sent to and get bored by the strict formalities of the letter writing process. Somehow though, in this book it totally worked.
Juliet is the main character in the story, and is a journalist who is very close friends with Sidney her editor (do not get confused, Sidney is in fact, a man) and his sister Sophie. As Juliet journey's to Guernsey to find out more about the German occupation on the island during WWII, she is delighted to find that she loves her new friends there, especially the members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. There is the synopsis for you. But even more than the charming story line to me, was the realness of these characters.
Elizabeth especially, became an intriguing character to me. Although she is never met within the novel, the entire novel revolves around this woman. She is a woman who risked her life to save a starving Todt boy. She punched Adelaide Addison in the face when she deserved it, and fell in love with a German -- so as not to deny her own feelings. She had picnics on tombstones and gave away her treasured pin.
I think I would have loved to be best friends with Elizabeth. And Juliet. And maybe have had a friend like Isola and a husband like Dawsey. But maybe that's just me.
Do yourself a favor. Read this book. It was charming.
"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers."
"Our parents and teachers say it's a miracle, but its not. It's going to happen no matter what, there's no choice in the matter. To my mind, a miracle is something that could go one way or another. How a mother comes to love her child, her caring at all for this thing that's made her heavy, lopsided and slow, this thing that made her wish she were dead.... that's the miracle."
Ami McKay's story was hard to put down. (Thanks Lacey). McKay's depiction of a Nova Scotian bay and the people who made their lives there was both inspiring and shocking.
Miss Babineau the village midwife trains the heroine of the novel - Dora - to attend to the females of the bay and ensure their safety while dealing with pregnancies, deliveries, and recoveries. As she stated, "All I ever wanted was to keep them safe."
There is plenty of love, but even more dislike embodied within the pages. I found myself wishing I could warn the women of the novel about the men and the mistakes they were making. I also do not recommend it if you are sensitive towards any sexual jargon, because there was a lot of that. But to me, it represented the strength of the women from this bay, and the sacrifices they made for women's rights.
Even more, this novel celebrated birth. It celebrated the pangs of motherhood, and the sacrifices women make for their children - even before they are born. It honored the duties of a woman and motherhood, which was very refreshing. I also felt it was appropriate for Mother's day.
"When I finished my tea tonight, I turned the cup over. One, two, three times round. I sees a pretty little house, right full with babies."
My sister Callie and I were talking today about being stranded on a desert island. I asked her what foods she would eat for the rest of her life if she could only choose five. Oddly enough... We had an identical list. It consisted of: