Genre: Adult Fiction, World War 2, British Isles
Reading Challenges: 2 of 5 for War Through the Generations,
6 for 100+ in 2009
I had heard so many great things about this book that it made me nervous. I approached this book with trepidation because I was certain that it couldn't live up to the many rave reviews, and that it would be sure to leave me disappointed. To my surprise, not only did it exceed my expectations, but it will now have a permanent place in my library as one of my favorite reads of all time.
The novel itself is written in the format of a series of letters, telegrams, and even a few journal entries, written shortly after the conclusion of World War 2. I always find this format interesting, perhaps because in our age of technology it is actually very rare to receive a true letter in the mail. I found myself slightly jealous of the main character for the opportunity she had to look forward to receiving such truly remarkable messages on paper, that were then hers to treasure for as long as she wished. Letters like these certainly put our text messages and email greetings to shame!
The novel is the story of Juliet Ashton, a writer who has achieved some notoriety for her light-hearted weekly newspaper column during the war. Juliet is seeking to leave the war behind, both personally and professionally, and is searching for the subject of her next book. Coincidentally, she receives an amazing letter from a stranger named Dawsey Adams, a native of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands which had been occupied by the Nazi's during the war. Adams enlists Juliet's aid in obtaining a copy of some additional works written by his favorite author, Charles Lamb, and in the process interests Juliet in the history and origins of the Guernsey Literary society. Soon, Juliet finds herself not only corresponding with, but building friendships with Dawsey's friends and neighbors as she seeks to understand their wartime experiences. Eventually Juliet travels to Guernsey, and becomes a part of the story herself.
This was a fast and enjoyable read. I really couldn't put this book down, and I found myself longing for more even as I turned the last page. This is a book that I will be adding to my read again pile!