Friday, March 5, 2010

Part 2 of the letters and conclusion

We have had our meeting for this book this past Saturday and there were 5 of us to chat. A good friend of mine came who's family is from Guernsey and shared pictures, stories and food! (more on the food later) We had a good conversation and were sorry that so many couldn't make it this month but I do know many had trouble getting in to the book's story. But then I know several who really enjoyed it. I think it might be the letter format that bothers some. But oh well, can't win them all! I almost feel ashamed at how little I have written about this book that I claim to enjoy so much but I just can't get into the writing for it. And my apologies for glossing over so many of the smaller story lines within the book but it's no matter now. Let's finish up!

In part 2 of the letters in the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Society the letters have changed some now that Juliet is on the actual island. We really get to know the people even better and learn their hardships. The author does a great job of really making these people come alive. When I finished reading the book, I didn't want it to stop, I wanted to keep reading about these people because I felt like I really knew them. I have to remind myself that this book is fictional! We have a love triangle that goes on with Juliet and Dawsey and isn't resolved till the end of the book as we read the "Detection notes of Miss Isola Pribby." And I have to say I felt like it was a happy ending. I was happy to see Juliet and Dawsey end up together. I enjoyed the last letter in the book from Juliet to Sidney. I love how when Juliet writes she compares her life to a book and how she describes everything to Sidney in the last letter. The author did a fantastic job of portraying so happy, in love and content Juliet has become.

If you make a visit to the website for the book there are lots of resources there to be used depending on your interest. I got our discussion questions off of the site even though they have them in the back of the books on the chance that someone forgot their book for the meeting or something. Also check out this neat map on Google that shows the island and different pictures of places mentioned throughout the book. After reading this book, Guernsey is added to places I would like to visit one day.

And on the chance you are reading and were not at our meeting but would like to share your opinions on the book feel free to answer some questions from the reader's guide or just tell us what you thought! I have answered in Italics a few with my opinions on the chance you are interested. :)

1. What was it like to read a novel composed entirely of letters? What do letters offer that no other form of writing (not even emails) can convey? I loved reading the book of letters and it really didn't throw me off at all like it has some readers. After a while I stopped paying attention to the dates and other info and would just look at who it was from and to. I still believe in written hand notes and letters as they convey the thoughtfulness and time someone sat down and took to think of you. It conveys someones personality with handwriting and misspellings.. something they actually touched and held in their hands.

2. What makes Sidney and Sophie ideal friends for Juliet? What common ground do they share? Who has been a similar advocate in your life?

3. Dawsey first wrote to Juliet because books, on Charles Lamb or otherwise, were so difficult to obtain on Guernsey in the aftermath of the war. What differences did you note between book selling in the novel and book selling in your world? What makes book lovers unique, across all generations? In the novel during that time period it was definitely alot more personal and people were grateful for the books. In today's time you can be hard pressed to find a book store owner who cares that much about their customers. It is easy to take for granted the mass of books we have at our fingertips.

4. What were your first impressions of Dawsey? How was he different from the other men Juliet had known?

5. Discuss the poets, novelists, biographers, and other writers who capture the hearts of the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. What does a reader’s taste in books say about his or her personality? Whose lives were changed the most by membership in the society?

6. Juliet occasionally receives mean-spirited correspondence from strangers, accusing both Elizabeth and Juliet of being immoral. What accounts for their judgmental ways? I'm not making excuses but I do think it needs to be remembered that the war was hard on everyone and it was a difficult time and place. Things are much different in today's time. And people may have said and done things they may not have under different circumstances.

7. In what ways were Juliet and Elizabeth kindred spirits? What did Elizabeth’s spontaneous invention of the society, as well as her brave final act, say about her approach to life?

8. Numerous Guernsey residents give Juliet access to their private memories of the occupation. Which voices were most memorable for you? What was the effect of reading a variety of responses to a shared tragedy?

9. Kit and Juliet complete each other in many ways. What did they need from each other? What qualities make Juliet an unconventional, excellent mother?

10. How did Remy’s presence enhance the lives of those on Guernsey? Through her survival, what recollections, hopes, and lessons also survived?

11. Juliet rejects marriage proposals from a man who is a stereotypical “great catch.” How would you have handled Juliet’s romantic entanglement? What truly makes someone a “great catch”? I didn't think Reynolds was a great catch... he didn't care about what Juliet cared about or was interested in.

12. What was the effect of reading a novel about an author’s experiences with writing, editing, and getting published? Did this enhance the book’s realism, though Juliet’s experience is a bit different from that of debut novelist Mary Ann Shaffer and her niece, children’s book author Annie Barrows? I did feel like the book was real and since I am so into books I really enjoyed this aspect.

13. What historical facts about life in England during World War II were you especially surprised to discover? What traits, such as remarkable stamina, are captured in a detail such as potato peel pie? In what ways does fiction provide a means for more fully understanding a non-fiction truth? I think fiction helps a non-fiction event feel more personal and real than a just the facts rendition, which can sometimes be lacking depending on who is telling the story.

14. Which of the members of the Society is your favorite? Whose literary opinions are most like your own? I would have to say that Isola was my favorite. I enjoyed her quirkiness and she just was a likable.. different type of person who didn't care what others thought of her.

15. Do you agree with Isola that “reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones”? I suppose that could be true.. but nevertheless you could say that about all things correct? Watching good movies ruins you for the bad..etc.

I really do hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned as I will make one more post for this book and share a Guernsey Sweet Cake recipe before starting on March's book. Happy Reading!

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