Friday, April 23, 2010

Talking Bout Guernsey

Our topic is the book "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

I freaking ADORED this book. However a good friend of mine did not - and I totally respect her opinion about that and think she has better taste in literature than I do. So let's discuss.

My initial thoughts:

Great example about a guy who looks perfect on paper but doesn't make you shiver, and therefore is not marriage material. Though I have to say the one she ended up with didn't seem to really make her shiver either - or perhaps he actually did, but the fact that it was written in letters & telegrams obscured that.

Oh, sending the children away for years! Having to make that fateful decision based on such little information? And to have to live with yourself as a parent?!

I wished Juliet could have found a diary in Elizabeth's house in which she chronicled her love affair with Christian. But isn't that how life is - we rarely get the full story.

Does the fact that the name Christian, which means follower of Christ, allude to the fact that Elizabeth was perhaps a Christ figure, who made Christ-like sacrifices for others? Did anyone else think Elizabeth was foolish, and that an argument could be made that for her daughter's sake she could have tried harder at self-preservation?



Jac said...

Well, see my comment on your previous post. I LOVED this book. In sooo many ways. I didn't consider the Elizabeth /Christ-figure comparison, but I'm really not one for picking up on allegorical themes in what I am reading. I'm a truly literal person.

I loved the way their little community came together to take care of Elizabeth's daughter. But, mostly the book just broke my heart. Even with its "happy" ending, it has a sad ending. All those lost childhood years can never be recaptured. Losing your children. Losing your parents.

Speaking of making fateful decisions on little information, ever read "On the Beach" by Neville Shute? It's old (50s?) book. It's about nuclear disaster, end of the world etc. Only Australia is left standing but the nuclear cloud is moving in so they know it's up for good soon. And there's this part in the book where the government issues suicide pills so that people can choose not to suffer through the radiation sickness. And parents are considering whether to give the pills to their kids/babies. They don't want the kids to suffer the radiation sickness (which is a truly awful way to go), BUT what if the cloud blows the other way BUT what if they wait too long and then the parents get sick first and no one is there to take care of the kids while they get sick...

Sorry, total off-topic tangent.

hush said...

I've heard of the movie version (I think) of "On the Beach" but I didn't know that's what it was about. Now I want to read it, preferably watch it in the interest of time.

The minor characters were also totally charming. I loved that John Booker(?) character who posed as the Lord of the manor, and decided not to get on his boat, but instead took up residence in the wine cellar! Aweome!

Melba said...

I'm so glad I decided to visit your blog, I LOVED THAT BOOK. It's been a while since I read it (a year maybe?) but I thought it was just so good.

But I'm with Jac on how heartbreaking this book is. SPOILER ALERT to anyone who hasn't read it...

I don't think I could have sent my child off to the unknown like that, wondering for years and years where they are, what happened, etc. But I'm not in that situation forced with that decision, so I guess I can't truly say what I would have done. But I bawled my eyes out during the part where the children were all gathered together and sent away.

And the way that Elizabeth died was so heroic but so tragic... BUT yes I agree that you could argue that she should have tried to save herself for her daughter's sake. She must have known that the consequences of her actions would be severe. But that was her character - not really considering the consequences, and acting with her heart.

I also loved the recycled dead pig story that got them all together, and how their club was formed, and how they came together to raise the little girl (I can't remember her name!).

And my last thought, which is always the thought I have after reading any story that has anything to do with the severe mistreatment of people by other people, such as the holocaust, is that I simply can. not. understand. how people can do such horrid things to other people. I just don't get it and books that highlight that fact, like this one did, always leave me sad and disappointed and scared. Its important to always remember, but still, it's just so awful. Leaves me with a sick feeling in my gut.

Claudia said...

I'm not going to read this post, or the comments, because I haven't read the book.

I just want you to know that you're a pusher, and will be all the richer for it.


hush said...

@Melba - Welcome!! The recycled dead pig story was pretty awesome. And I agree totally about the sick feeling in my gut. There was this documentary on PBS recently called "Worse Than War" about genocides, and it mentioned the sudden release of all of the women from Nazi death camps when the Allies were on their way to liberate the camps. What appalled me most was how the guards were so committed to their atrocities that instead of running off to save themselves from getting captured by the Allies, many of them stayed and marched the starving, horrifically ill women out into the desolate countryside to their deaths. I cannot comprehend it really.

@Claudia - I'm not trying to be a pusher, I swear! I really would rather sleep than read. ;) And the library & thrift stores are where I get most of my books - but I'd imagine there probably are not many in your area that are filled with English language books though!

caramama said...

I agree with what everyone else has said about the book. I didn't think of the Elizabeth-Christ connection, but I can see it now that you mention it.

***Spoiler Alert***

Although at first I couldn't understand how Elizabeth could have done what she did for that woman in the concentration camp. It would only get her severely in trouble and not really help the woman. And she had a daughter to think about!

But I believe I've begun to realize why (especially in light of my recent thoughts about bullies). For a person like Elizabeth, there would be only so much she could take in a place like that. There would be a point that she simply could not stand by anymore. She must have just snapped. No more. You know?

I personally loved the story between Juliet and the guy (what was his name?). I didn't take it that the rich guy didn't make her "shiver" so much as she didn't feel the deeper connection. That she definitely got from what's his face.

I also loved the minor characters, from the guy living in the mansion to the annoying nosy women who write to Juliet to the editor friend of hers. And what about that one who would only read one book? Too funny!

Great book. I really enjoyed it, and hearing the opinions here.

You know what we should do? We should have an online book club! We could take turns hosting on our blogs, for those of us who have blogs. Maybe once a month or every other month. What do you guys think?

Melba said...

Hey caramama I'd love to do an online book club! However, I have a hard time committing to a timeline unless the book is easy to read. I've been reading Emma (Jane Austen) since last summer. Seriously, like 8 months. I'm almost done! But I, unlike hush, sleep whenever I freaking can (which is rare) so my reading has gone severely downhill from what it was before little Annie came along in January. I used to read a book a month or more.

Speaking of Jane Austen though, my mom and sisters started a Jane Austen Book club about 2 years ago, and Emma is the last book! They're all waiting for me. I really liked reading all the Austen novels though!

hush said...

@Caramama - Yes, a bloggy friends book club would be fun - count me in! At some point I want to discuss "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" here.

Great insight about Elizabeth 'snapping' and lashing out at the guards. I'm going to have to steal that idea when my IRL Shitty Book Club discusses it. ;)

@Melba - I didn't know you have a 3 month old! Wow- I'm impressed that you can find the time to read anything at all. Loved "Emma" several years back - I'll definitely have to read it again.