Do not let the name–or the odious fact that Elizabeth Gilbert’s recommendation is at the top of the paperback version–give you pause in reading this book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of the better books you will ever read.
This book is not twee. It is not overly sentimental, it does not pull cheap tricks to get you to laugh or to cry, but you will do both. I laughed out loud and then had to put the book down a few pages later to get my thoughts in order. One time in particular I had to leave the room my kids were in so that I could crawl under my covers and hide to process the evil in the world. Although you can never fully process the evil, can you.
Here are some of the better quotes to whet your palate for a good book, then you can go buy one for yourself. Or borrow it from your sister, as I did, which is how I read all my good books lately. Anyway, on to the quotes:
Does it ever give thee pause, that men used to have a soul–not by hearsay alone, or as a figure of speech; but as a truth that they knew, and acted upon! Verily it was another world then… but yet it is a pity we have lost the tidings of our souls… we shall have to go in search of them again, or worse in all ways shall befall us.
I, too, have felt that the war goes on and on. When my son, Ian, died at El Alamein–side by side with Eli’s father, John–visitors offering their condolences, thinking to comfort me, said “Life goes on.” What nonsense, I thought, of course it doesn’t. It’s death that goes on; Ian is dead now and will be dead tomorrow and next year and forever. There’s no end to that. But perhaps there will be an end to the sorrow of it. Sorrow has rushed over the world like the waters of the Deluge, and it will take time to recede. But already, there are small islands of–hope? Happiness? Something like them, at any rate.
Some of the Todt workers were kept down on the Common, behind a wire fence–they were white as ghosts, covered in cement dust; there was only one water standpipe for over a hundred men to wash themselves.
Children sometimes went down to the green to see the Todt workers behind the wire fences. They would poke walnuts and apples, sometimes potatoes, through the wire for them. There was one Todt worker who did not take the food–he came to see the children. He would put his arm through the wire just to hold their faces in his hands, to touch their hair.
Dead Bride is not a complicated game like Snakes and Ladders; it’s quite simple. The bride veils herself in a lace curtain and stuffs herself into the laundry hamper, where she lies as though dead while the anguished bridegroom hunts for her. When he finally discovers her entombed in the laundry hamper, he breaks into loud wails. Then and only then does the bride jump up, yell “Surprise!” and clutch him to her. Then it is all joy and smiles and kisses. Privately, I don’t give that marriage much of a chance.
Think of it! We could have gone on longing for one another and pretending not to notice forever. This obsession with dignity can ruin your life if you let it.