Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society - A special Thanksgiving book review

This book, far different from those I typically review for their Simple-Green-Frugal-ness, just had to be shared. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - the book with the silly name, yet one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.

A story entirely told in letters, I was immediately swept away to Guernsey Island, nestled neatly between France and England where a small group of islanders discover a passion for books and an even greater compassion for each other as they struggle to survive the German invasion in WWII.

What struck me most was two-fold. First, no one writes beautiful letters like these anymore. We've become far too dependent on the backspace-key, much in contrast to letters that bare our most intimate thoughts, shared in pen that cannot be taken back.

Second, that we indeed can find the greatest beauty even amongst the ruins. Despite unimaginable circumstances (famine, death, and destruction), we each have the opportunity to embrace life, be at peace, and find our salvation in caring and being cared for.

I often imagined, as I read, what it would be like to live in Guernsey, to suffer these characters pains, to share their deep friendships. And I found myself longing to take part in the hunger, the loss, if only to be connected. It shocked me. How lucky are we for whom life is not so dire, yet we fail to grasp our great fortune. The truth, however, is that we need not visit Guernsey to find pain and suffering. We need not travel to discover the blessings in the gathering of loved ones. We need only to awaken. Gurnsey Island is here, now. May we discover the beautiful story in the simplicity our own daily lives.

Having finished this book on Thanksgiving-eve, I'd like to give thanks - for my health problems, for they have humbled me; for my family, who've given me great comfort; and for dear friends, who share their lives with me, their love of books, and their passion for living. You each know who you are.

And to everyone, a very Happy Thanksgiving.

P.S. Be sure to check this out from your library as soon as it opens tomorrow...


Krista said...

This is a great book! I loved reading it.

hmd said...

Krista - Glad to hear someone else loved it as much as I did. I'm going to scope out our local bookstores and see if I can't find a couple copies to give Dave and my 2 moms. Its definitely one to pass along.

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