Oh, what a fine, fine day for Whatcha Reading? Because last night I cracked open a new book to read "just a few pages" at 11:45 before dropping off to sleep.
At 2:00 a.m. I had to force myself to PUT THE DARN BOOK DOWN. PUT IT DOWN!
It's been a long time since I had a book grab me so hard, thrust me into its world and make me turn each page to see what would happen next.
And the book? The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
It is on our book club list for later in the year, but I thought I would read it now (since I've already finished the selection for this month The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse) so that if someone else in the club needed to borrow it, they could.
It is told as a series of letters from Juliet Ashton, beginning in January 1946, as England begins the long, slow recovery from WW2. She is a writer casting about for her next subject, at loose ends, slightly depressed with how hard the peace is (harder rationing than during the war, rubble on every street, loss of friends and all her stuff, etc.) She receives an unsolicited letter from a man who has, somehow, come into possession of one of her old books, a selection of Charles Lamb's writings. He lives on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands between England and France. They were occupied by the Germans during the war (I didn't know that). And he wants to ask what else Lamb might have written, and how he might contact a bookseller in London to find out.
That begins a correspondence between Juliet and the members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The club was active during the occupation, and provided friendship, something to think about besides the war, and some sort of "normalcy" during a very un-normal time.
Told a little snippet at a time, it is utterly charming. Some of the letters are funny. Some are quietly devastating. We have so little idea, here in the US, of what it was like to be under the heel of a dominating power. Or what it was like to live with nightly bombings. This book, in a nonthreatening and almost sneaky way makes you start thinking those "what if" thoughts.
I'm half way through the book. But my preliminary take? Go get it. Now.
Yesterday afternoon during break, I finished Stella Gibbons Cold Comfort Farm. Thoroughly enjoyable, it was a book club selection earlier in the year. (I had finished all but the last 1/4). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as is the related movie. I mean, truly, how can you not love a book with cows in it named Feckless, Aimless, Graceless and Pointless?
A comic novel that was the send up of overheated novels by Mary Webb (yes, Smock, your Mary Webb) and even of those Bronte sisters works, it is laugh out loud funny. I can never hand wash dishes again without thinking "I mun cletter my dishes with this twig." Yeah, I know it doesn't make sense to you, but it is hilarious in the context of the book. A+++.
Reading slowly through Our Mutual Friend. I read a chapter or 2, then set it aside for a bit. I think I'm reading it as it was published, one little piece at a time. This is how you know you're a book nerd: You're reading Dickens in bed and your husband turns to you and says "What are you snorting about NOW?" Parts are sad, but parts are so funny they make me gasp.
Spiritual reading? Peter Kreeft's Jesus-Shock. Good as always. More about that later.
How 'bout you?