By Patti Hartog
The Forum At Brookside Book Club has been meeting for over seven years, with 20-25 residents regularly participating. The group meets in the living room in the Forum at Brookside Pavilion. Through participation in the book club, residents find opportunities to interact with one another and form new relationships. It creates a safe meeting place where people from different backgrounds, political parties, and religious denominations can freely share ideas and opinions. Discussions are led by Mark Clifford, director of recreation at The Forum. Mark shared thoughts on the group’s recent selection, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer.
What have you learned from this book? Learning about the plight of the Channel Islands off the French coast of France was sobering. I had no idea what the people of these islands went through as they were occupied throughout WWII and cut off from the rest of the world. They were completely at the mercy of the Nazis and all alone. Their inspirational survival told through this book reawakened me to the horrors of war and the uncanny strength of the human spirit. This book reminded me that perseverance from generations past and what they overcame can still serve as inspiration and opportunity for those who live today.
Could you provide me with two or three quotes from the book…… Juliet’s statement regarding “not marrying” Adrian… “I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.” (Page 8)
Juliet trying to understand Guernsey parents’ sacrifice of sending their children away so they would be safe… “Of all the things that happened during the war, this one — making your children go away to try to keep them safe — was surely the most terrible. How did the mothers of Guernsey live, not knowing where their children were? I can’t imagine.” (Page 230)
Juliet writing to Sidney on her impending wedding at the close of the book… “All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged — after all, what’s good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it’s a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot.” (Page 274)
If you could hang out with one character from the book, who would it be and why? Dawsey Adams. I see a lot of myself in this character. He is quiet, soft spoken, compassionate, and cares deeply about others. He puts others before himself without exception and is a constant presence of comfort, support, and strength to many. His attributes are what I aspire to in my own life. From the beginning of the book he was my favorite and throughout I was rooting for him in all situations.
Why did you choose this book? Are you glad you did? We wanted to read something lighthearted and fun. An epistolary novel was also something I knew would be challenging. The historical story behind the book was very interesting as well, and I felt that it would enable stimulating discussion within the group. It did! It came highly recommended and we were not disappointed. By book’s end the entire group had fallen in love with the characters and their story.
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