Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bring Back Letter Writing - The Guernsey Literary Potato Pie Peel Society

Yes, its been a while since we chatted, but, I'm back and have lots to talk about.

I've been on a book feast, reading from my TBR pile and even though I have probably got through at least 20 books in the last couple of months, the TBR pile remains the same (if not bigger!) My TBR is one of the great mysteries of life to me, like the odd sock in the washing machine, so I have given up even thinking about seeing it off. It clearly has some kind of life force of it's own and could probably argue for it's own existence if asked, so I'm going to just let it be and carry on reading!

More books to come but today I'm going to talk about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. It is set in 1946 and follows the story of a number of people who love to read books and write letters. The majority of characters in the story are residents of Guernsey during the German occupation of WWII. One night a few of them are caught outside after curfew and whilst being questioned by German soldiers they pretend to have been to a book club meeting, when actually they have been feasting on a pig which has been surreptitiously hidden from the German authorities who commandeer all livestock on the islands for use of German troops. It is at this moment "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" is born and after hearing their excuse the soldiers let the transgressors go. To cover their tracks and in order to support their story, several of the townsfolk begin to meet regularly to talk about books and some of them actually discover they really do love to read after all.

I mentioned that the book is set in 1946 and it is although the story is predominantly about how the people of Guernsey dealt with occupation throughout the war and how life was for them after liberation. What is so unusual about this work is that the characters and the story unfold through a series of letters the reader gets to view and slowly but surely events and people come to life as the correspondence continues. This is a unique book in many ways and I loved it. Not only did I want it to go on and on, it was one of those rare books that I immediately started to read again just after I turned the last page.

Then I began to remember just how it was in those days before email and instant messaging took over; when letters or telegrams were at the centre of written communication and played such a pivotal role in many peoples lives. I began to long for those days again - the excitement of seeing an envelope with my name and address written by hand on the front of it and sometimes trying to guess by the postmark who might have written to me if the handwriting was unfamiliar. Then I thought of specific letters I have received; the times of pure pleasure I have had when a letter arrived and I recognised the writing of someone I loved and couldn't wait to rip open the envelope and greedily consume every word.....such magical memories of a time past .......

Or has it past?!! I have a plan :)

Let Us Bring Back Letter Writing!!!

I figure if everyone who reads this blog commits to send a hand written letter, card or note to at least one person they know, each week from now on (more if you are really keen on the idea), I'll bet we could start a letter writing revival, especially if we pass it forward by telling everyone we write to that we are trying to revive the art of letter writing and they can join in the effort too!

So, I'm going to start today and you can too.....I have my address book to hand and my notepad ready so look out for the Postie.

What do you think about the idea?