May 172011
 

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” writes Juliet Ashton, the main narrator, in one of her early letters to Dawsey Adams, the man who arises her interest for the island and its history.

I’m close to believing in this homing instinct myself, after reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, an “accidental read,” as I mentioned in my preceding post. Accidental not only in its circumstances but also in its language: I read it in the French edition I was given. Thought it is not uncommon for me to read some originally published in English works in French (most of the time for work purposes, i.e. a need for quoting in French), it’s not that often, and several times during the reading I could feel in transparency the rhythm of the English original and missed it. When done with it, realizing I wanted to quote from it (reverse proposition from what I explained earlier), I ended up getting a copy in English… (This is kind of typical of my mixed-up life in between two languages… More about this in another post). But to come back to the homing proposition, I was struck by the expression which not only reflected what I often found in my own reading wanderings but also fitted so well this very experience and how I came to read this very book. A gift rediscovered in dangerously high piles (see picture)… In any case it was difficult to put it down, and I was sad to let it go. One of the reasons again is its everyday nature, the fact that it is grounded in the daily rhythm of life. As such it could go on forever.. and in my mind will. Though it would be nice if somebody would pick up the pen where Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows put it down, and continue to write those letters in the voice of Juliet, Sophie, Sydney, Dawsey, and so many others. And one day, Kit would be old enough to have her own voice too…

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