I didn’t like Wuthering Heights at first, but the minute that specter, Cathy, scrabbled her bony fingers on the window glass- I was grasped by the throat and not let go.
The story is on the surface rather pedestrian and predictable. In postwar Britain, a young writer finishing the book tour for her highly successful account of life in wartime London searches for a new topic for her next book, while being courted by a dashing, wealthy American. Enter a letter from a young farmer on the isle of Guernsey with a taste for Charles Lamb, and so begins her fascination with the plucky Guernsey folk who weathered the German occupation with courage and wit. Although it’s quite clear who our heroine will end up with, the journey to that satisfying conclusion is delightful, peopled with eccentric pig farmers, gay publishers, outspoken herbalists and the fierce 4 year old illegitimate daughter of a German medical officer and the book’s never-met but ever-present center, Elizabeth. Honestly, if I’d been reading it as a book, I would have put it down. But because of the multiple excellent readers, I couldn’t wait for an opportunity to drive so I could continue the story. Here is a case where good readers made all the difference in the world. The construction of the book, it consists entirely of letters between the many characters, lends itself to multiple readers one of whom is the fabulous English actress Juliet Mills.Themes of compassion, tolerance and global connections make this a true feel-good book but manage to avoid icky-sticky saccharine oversimplification of human nature. But the most delightful thing for me was how much all the characters were moved by the books they read, from Charles Lamb to Emily Bronte! It’s really about the joy of reading- or in this case of being read to.
Check the BPL catalog for this title: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society