Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A little education with your entertainment

Who says reading fiction isn't educational.

OK, so I don't know that anyone actually says that. But if there are people saying it,they're wrong.

There's much to learn from reading fiction, if only just to learn more about ourselves.

But there were actual facts to be gleaned from "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer.

The book unfolds as a series of letters written after World War II and focuses on the wartime experiences of folks on Guernsey island. It's located in the English Channel and was occupied by the Germans during WWII. Cut off from most communication with the outside world during the war, islanders knew nothing of what became of the children they sent off or of those folks arrested and sent away.

The love story aspects of the book were not nearly as interesting to me as the recollections of the islanders.

I was fascinated by the ability of people to relate the most horrific events in the most matter-of-fact way. (Yes, I know they're not real people.)

This book seems ripe for book club discussion about everything from the creation of the literary society, to island culture, to coping with adversity, to the idea of living in so isolated a place, to the characters themselves.

Listen to the author discuss the novel and get ideas for your own discussion here.

-Tricia Ambrose

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