“Everyone was so sickly from so little nourishment and bleak from wondering if it would ever end. We clung to books and to our friends; the reminded us that we had another part to us.”
During World War II, the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans in hopes that they would soon take control of England. Instead they stayed for several years. On Guernsey, the village people did what they could to survive and help those in need on their island. Getting caught coming home late one night, a few of them create a literary society, which ends up drawing them even closer during a trying time.
I don’t often re-read books, but when this book was chosen for the book club I’m a part of, I didn’t hesitate to pick it up. I read it several years ago as part of another book club and had forgotten some of the details. It was great to re-discover why I loved this book so much.
The book is composed entirely of letters. At first, it is slightly confusing as to which character is which, but the author creates such different personalities that it soon becomes easy to read. Juliet is a writer and book lover who gets a letter in the mail from a man who has bought a book that used to belong to her about Charles Lamb. He wants more information on Lamb, but they don’t have access to much information on Guernsey. As they start corresponding, she finds out the story of their island during the war and eventually visits them to start writing a book about their literary society. She discovers a member of their society, Elizabeth, is missing after being arrested for helping a prisoner on the island. She left behind a daughter, Kit. Juliet soon begins to feel a pull toward Juliet and the people on the island, which will change her life.
I would recommend this book to any adult, especially lovers of historical fiction. It touches on some of the awful details of World War II without making it the main topic. It would be a great book club book and there are questions at the end of the novel. It truly appeals to anyone who loves books and writes (that’s why I love it!).