A history lesson and travelogue through Italy – past and present
Five great books set in Guernsey
7th June 2018
Guernsey is the latest destination in our ‘Five great books set in…’ series.
One of the Channel Islands, Guernsey is the second largest of the cluster of inhabited islands close to the French coast, but more aligned historically and culturally with England. Guernsey is of course currently attracting heightened publicity for release of the film adaptation of the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. TripFiction makes no excuse for jumping on that bandwagon, especially as – unsurprisingly given its recent history – several of the books in this list share similar themes.
All are set firmly on this charming island, and would be the perfect way to embrace Guernsey, whether on holiday there or for a spot of vicarious literary wanderlust from your armchair at home.
The Betrayal is the 6th in Anne Allen’s series of Guernsey Novels. She lived on the island for 14 years, so is well qualified to write these romantic mysteries, embedded in the soul of this beautiful Channel Island.
Treachery and theft lead to death – and love.
1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth.
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?
Ebenezer Le Page, cantankerous, opinionated, and charming, is one of the most compelling literary creations of the late twentieth century.
Eighty years old, Ebenezer has lived his whole life on the Channel Island of Guernsey, a stony speck of a place caught between the coasts of England and France yet a world apart from either.
Ebenezer himself is fiercely independent, but as he reaches the end of his life he is determined to tell his own story and the stories of those he has known. He writes of family secrets and feuds, unforgettable friendships and friendships betrayed, love glimpsed and lost.
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is a beautifully detailed chronicle of a life, but it is equally an oblique reckoning with the traumas of the twentieth century, as Ebenezer recalls both the men lost to the Great War and the German Occupation of Guernsey during World War II, and looks with despair at the encroachments of commerce and tourism on his beloved island.
It is 1943, the German army has been defeated at Stalingrad, and the tide is beginning to turn. But on occupied Guernsey, the reality of war seems a lifetime away. Recreating life on the occupied island, this novel asks questions about collaboration and the nature of war.
‘The book itself is part thriller, part love story, and wholly engrossing on the subject of occupation and its moral choices. Who can be confident today how he or she would have behaved under such circumstances?‘ Antonia Fraser, Books of the Year (1999), Sunday Telegraph
4. A Place of Hiding by Elizabeth George
The sudden death of Guy Brouard after his morning swim shocks the residents of Guernsey. A generous patron and benefactor of the island since his arrival there a decade ago, his demise puts a question mark over many cherished projects.
When a young American woman is charged with the murder, her brother seeks help from the only contact he has in the UK – Deborah St James. Deborah is horrified to find that her old friend has been arrested and persuades her husband Simon to accompany her to Guernsey to avert this miscarriage of justice.
There they find a tangled web of deceit and betrayal, with its origins in wartime occupation. In solving the crime, they must rely on their long-standing friendship with Inspector Lynley; they must also learn painful lessons about loyalty and trust, and the loving tyranny of family ties.
It’s 1946. The war is over, and Juliet Ashton has writer’s block. But when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – a total stranger living halfway across the Channel, who has come across her name written in a second hand book – she enters into a correspondence with him, and in time with all the members of the extraordinary Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Through their letters, the society tell Juliet about life on the island, their love of books – and the long shadow cast by their time living under German occupation. Drawn into their irresistible world, Juliet sets sail for the island, changing her life forever.
Of course we had to include this one in our Guernsey best books series. Our partner Silver Travel Advisor and their Silver Travel Book Club readers s are currently enjoying it, and click here to see a trailer for the new film adaptation, starring Lily James.
Andrew for the TripFiction Team
Which titles would you add to this list? Any you would like to add to our database?. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments box below.
Other posts in our ‘Five great books set in…’ series:
And our ‘Ten great books set in…’ series includes:
Do come and join team TripFiction on Social Media: