Read Your Way Around the World Invites you to the Channel Islands.
The Channel Islands – Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark and Herm – those feisty little Bailiwicks. Channel Islanders are British citizens but they are not a part of the United Kingdom and not a part of the European Union Over the years they have had such strategic importance. The Islands had a hard time of it during World War II being the only part of the British Commonwealth occupied by the Germans. One the most famous literary factoids associated with the Channel Islands is that Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables there. In addition T.H. White, author of The Once and Future King spend the latter part of his life on Alderney.
Making waves in recent years is, of course, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Sadly this was her first and only book and she died the same year it was released in 2008. Shaffer, an American, was intrigued by Guernsey’s wartime experience during a visit there in the 1970’s. She writes about the courage of the islanders in midst of the occupation. Told in letter format, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was born of a ruse to protect residents from the Germans. It is a story equally of the power of the human spirit and the power of literature.
Another American, Elizabeth George, is a prolific mystery author. Minor characters from her Linley series are featured in A Place of Hiding. China River and her brother Cherokee are hired to deliver blueprints to a millionaire living on the island of Guernsey. He plans to build a museum honouring the islanders’ resistence during World War II. When he turns up dead River involves forensic scientists Deborah and Simon St. John. Brouard, the millionaire, was himself forced to flee the Nazis in Paris as a child and there are many who might have a reason to wish him harm.
We’ll leave Guernsey and travel to the island of Jersey with Jack Higgins’ Night of the Fox. Back in time to the German occupation an American colonel turns up, injured, on Jersey with knowledge of the forthcoming D-Day landings. It is imperative that he is rescued or eliminated before he is captured by the enemy. This fast-paced spy story is complete with appealing good guys, horrible bad guys and lots of action.
G.B. Edwards is a native of Guernsey and wrote what many consider to be the novel that most accurately describes life in the Channel Islands. The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is the life story of one Ebenezer Le Page whose life spans the dramatic events from the late nineteenth century to the 1960’s. He tells his life story as an old man who has spent his entire life on Guernsey. It is a book that deals with both the big issues of the twentieth century and how they affected this tiny island, and the intimate issues that sprout from life – love, secrets, friendships and feuds.
One of the most famous people to hail from Jersey is the Jersey Lily herself Lillie Langtry. Lillie Langtry made her way from Jersey to London to become a professional beauty, an actress and mistress of the future King Edward VII. Roy and Lillie: a love story by Loren D. Estleman Roy Bean and his fascination with Lillie Langtry. Although they never met Bean named his hotel and ultimately his town after her.Roy Bean was a hardened law man who became enamoured of this beautiful woman. They corresponded, but unfortunately, he died before she was able to fulfill her promise to visit Langtry, Texas.