I love to read. I’m a reader, through and through. Always have been, and hopefully always will be (unless I’m rendered deaf and blind, in which case: take me out coach). Much to my husbands’ dismay I regularly pay overdue fines of $50+ to the local library for ambitious amounts of overdue books, lost books, and books accidentally soaked in Chai (who me? never!) in addition to spending unhealthy amounts of cash at Barnes & Noble for new hardback books I’ve been dying to read and don’t have patience to wait for in paperback.
There’s nothing like a really good read is there?
Once upon a time I was in a book club for about five minutes before I realized, (as in every other aspect of my life) I don’t like being told what to do, even if it means reading a book someone else has chosen. I don’t take orders very well, even if I’m the idiot who opted into the club in the first place.
Sometimes I need to be saved from myself.
Anyway, this was my only book pick I managed to stick around for (I guess I had to show up) and I could not love it more.
The history of how the book came to be written at all is super interesting in and of itself. The primary author, Mary Ann Shaffer, traveled to England to further research on an entirely different book she was planning to write and upon arriving in Britain and not finding enough information to write that book, combined with a long weather-related layover at an airport in the U.K. wherein Shaffer read several volumes of WWII English history in the airport, she decided to write quite another book.
England, like every other country involved in a world war, has so much crazy interesting rich history surrounding the clever folks who manage to scrape by despite the German occupation, general starvation and bombed out landscape. So Mary Ann compiled a richly delicious narrative about the history of an eccentric group of British citizens from Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Normandy, France during World War II.
Truth is always stranger than fiction, and usually far more interesting at that, as is detailed in the book. You just can’t believe some what these people survived, and how they thrived, despite a horrific war and resulting German occupation. Shaffer weaves a luscious history with characters you’ll fall in love with, and desperately want to be friends with by the end of the book.
I didn’t know anything about the Channel Islands before reading this (how???) and now have a deep desire to travel there, to Guernsey at the very least, before I die.
Sadly, Shaffer died before completing the book, but like any strong woman with foresight, enlisted the help of her niece, writer Annie Barrows to finish the book upon realizing she couldn’t finish it herself. Barrows kept the pages true to her aunt’s original story and if you didn’t know the history behind the account getting published, you’d never know the difference.
This book is so good. So interesting, so warm and cozy (that’s a thing), the characters so real (they were!) you’ll never want it to end. Seriously, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s definitely my very favorite read of the last 5 years, if not 10. I loved every minute of it and love going back to read it again and again.
What are you waiting for? Go! Get your read on.