Late in January my book club at Southwestern University had possibility the most sprinted book club discussion I’ve ever witnessed.
The book we were discussing was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
The action in the book is set just after World War II, and is focused on the recounting of events that occurred during the (real-life) Nazi occupation of the island of Guernsey. The island is located in the English Channel, and it’s so close to France that it was where a lot of exiles ended up during the French Revolution!
The novel is centered around Juliet, a journalist whose light articles made people laugh during the war, and whom I had a soft spot for. (The depiction of funny women in literature who read on a regular basis is awfully sparse, and it’s always good to have another one.) Thus, I identified with Juliet a little more than some people might.
Apparently several members of my book club had a hard time getting into the book, because it’s an epistolary novel, constructed entirely of letters.
On the other hand, I was all excited when I first started reading the novel, because I was excited that, maybe, the epistolary novel was making a comeback.
When the novel turned out to be a somewhat unconventional love story, I wasn’t in the least surprised. That’s because I’ve found it easier to fall in love via letter than almost any other way.
The intimacy, the detail, and, often the confessional are all part of the appeal of a real-life epistolary romance.
Then again, in real life, there’s always the part where the letter never comes, the in-box never pings, and one ends up writing vague blog posts about the experience.
Your mileage may vary.
I’m against spoilers, but it won’t be much of a spoiler if I tell you that I saw the end of this book coming a mile away. No one else in my book club did.
The again, maybe Arcade Fire explained the magic of falling in love via letters way better than I’ll ever be able to.