…by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer.
Usually a book cover catches my attention and I go on to buy the book if I like the synopsis on the back. But with this book, it was the title that caught my fancy and intrigued me enough to want to buy the book even without reading the summary on the back cover.
Set in England and Guernsey (in the Channel Islands) in the aftermath of WWII, this book contains a series of letters to and from Juliet, a London based writer. While on a book tour, she receives a letter from a man named Dawsey from Guernsey telling her that he has one of the books that she used to own (going by her name and address on the book) and asking her if she could help him find some books that he is interested in reading. They get communicating through mails and she goes on to learn about a literary society that was formed in Guernsey during the German Occupation. She starts writing to other members of the society to learn more of how they came to be.
Through these communications and more, readers discover of the book club, of what happened in Guernsey during the Occupation, of the lives of the members of the society, of Juliet’s growing interest in the society’s members and how she wants to take this correspondence one step further.
What a delight this book is! is what I felt as I was turning page after page of this charming novel. I got to know of the characters, of the place, of the emotions and of the tragedies surrounding the war through the snippets provided in one letter after another. While there were moments that made me smile with joy, there were also pages so moving that it brought tears.
The story of how the society is formed and how the members, some of who haven’t read a book before joining the society yet come to love it after,even if it means reading the same book over and over, is interesting. There are bits and pieces of discussions about authors and books that the members read was enough to keep me engrossed.
The writing is simple and easy to follow. The book is steady paced. There are no twists and turns, but you don’t really need any element of mystery or surprise to like this book. It’s charming in its own way. This is the first book that I read in the format of letters and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I couldn’t put it down once I started it…I had to finish it in one evening. It was a quick read thankfully.
Overall, a fascinating, light (in parts) yet emotionally engaging story; I highly recommend it.
My rating: 4*.
*for the rating scale, click here.