sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

July 9, 2009

unseasonable, capital, and delectable
posted by soe 11:00 pm

It’s Thursday, glorious Thursday! I present you with three beautiful things from my world this past week:

1. The weather has been gorgeous. Mid-July in the mid-Atlantic usually is muggy and unbearable with the occasional thunderstorm to break up the 3 H’s. This last week? Mostly sunny. Highs in the 80s. Overnight temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Low humidity. I’m thinking this might be what summers are like in the Elysian Fields.

2. Saturday night, Rudi and I pedaled down to the Potomac to watch the fireworks. We found a deserted (!) stretch of grass next to a very nice Mr. Lincoln from Illinois and watched what turned out to be, we thought, the best pyrotechnic display since we moved to the District. A slight breeze blew the smoke away from the Mall, so we had an unobscured view of the show with the Washington Monument in the background. It was a magnificent way to mark our country’s birthday.

3. I discovered a box in the fridge this morning when hunting for blueberries. Its contents? Forgotten fudge from our trip to the shore last month. Rudi and I have been sampling its contents for dessert tonight, and I’m delighted to tell you that aging fudge does great things for it.

What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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be still my heart
posted by soe 11:39 am

Rick Riordan, Kate DiCamillo, and Shannon Hale all on one day. Oh, and some other folks…

Rudi has Moxie Fruvous going through his head right now…

Category: books. There is/are 4 Comments.

into the stacks: 2009.5
posted by soe 1:16 am

Maybe one of my goals for July should be to catch up on book reviews. I wonder what it would feel like to be current with my reviews instead of telling you about books I read back in February…

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

From the jacket: “January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’d never met, a native of Guernsey, the British island once occupied by the Nazis. He’d come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb. Perhaps she could tell him where he might find more books by this author. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the Society’s charming, deeply human members, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. through their letters she learns about their island, their taste in books, and the powerful, transformative impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds there will change her forever.”

My take: Oh. my. god. This book is amazing. I laughed. I cried. I finished it and wanted immediately to begin it again.

Set in the year after the end of World War II, this epistolary novel opens as the English are attempting to rebuild their lives as well as their cities. Juliet Ashton, a writer who had an upbeat newspaper column during the war, is back to being able to write about the topics of her choosing, but she’s unable to settle on a subject that matters.

A letter arrives at her doorstep, forwarded from her previous, bombed-out flat, from a stranger on the Isle of Guernsey. He has come into possession of a book that once belonged to her and, intrigued by the subject, he’s hoping to learn more. Could she possibly point him to a shop in London that would be willing to search out additional books for him? All the bookshops on the island were destroyed by the Nazis and he’s desperate for a new book.

Through their correspondence, she comes to learn more about her pen-pal, his odd group of friends who comprised the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and life under Nazi rule. Could there be a story there for her to tell?

Annie Barrows recently stopped by Politics and Prose to do a reading, so I and a bazillion other fans turned out to hear her talk about the novel. She explained that the book had been her aunt’s, but that when her aunt became deathly ill, Annie, already a published author of children’s books, found herself being asked to flesh out and fill in the story. Mary Ann died before the book came out in English, but Annie sweetly said that she was so glad that her participation in the project had enabled readers to connect with the best storyteller in her family.

And I can believe it. The characters are so well-written that you’ll wish you could time travel to meet them before you remember that they didn’t really exist. The format of the book allows secondary and even tertiary characters to have full and well-rounded back stories and for events to be shared from different perspectives, which I found to be quite rewarding.

Read this book. I found it best book of the year material. Amazing.

Pages: 278 pages

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