I’m just back from a wonderful safari in Kenya and I managed to squeeze a bit of reading in between game drives (it’s a hard life indeed) and really enjoyed two new paperbacks: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Burrows and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Reading them in hard copy rather than on Kindle was a holiday treat and they were both riveting.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is set just after the Second World War and is about an author, Juliet, who has writers’ block until she starts corresponding with a book club in Guernsey after one of them writes to her having found a book with her name written inside the cover. It turns out that this book club was set up during the war when a group of Guernsey residents were caught by the German Army out after curfew, having been enjoying some illicit food for dinner. Having made-up on the spot that they were a book club they decide to become a real one, reading whatever they can get their hands on in war time.
Their correspondence with Juliet unfolds and we learn about their stories as well as the books they have enjoyed, and Juliet decides to pay them a visit in Guernsey, and it’s one that changes her life and theirs forever. This is a lovely book and is co-authored because Mary-Ann died before it was finished and her niece Annie completed it. It’s been made into a film and I’m looking forward to going to see it next week.
I lot of my friends have been telling me I must read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine for a few months now, so it was time to give it a try and I’m very glad I did. It took me a while to get into it, reading about the regimented existence of a Scottish office worker seemed incongruous in my Maasai Mara surroundings, but I persevered and was soon completely sucked into the world of Eleanor. You soon realise something fundamental is wrong with Eleanor and that there must be a reason for the tiny and lonely and alcoholic life she leads. It’s heart-warming watching the friendship between her and her co-worker Raymond unfold and to see her slowly engaging with the world around her.
But it’s not all an easy ride for Eleanor and she hits some massive lows before the true extent of her awful childhood is revealed and she begins to come to terms with it and is able to look to a different and brighter future. It’s an extremely well-written, clever and hopeful book that takes you into the reality of childhood abuse and the care system, but leaves you with renewed faith in humanity.