I swear, I did not stop my 100 novels project. I just had a few distractions along the way, like a kitchen reno and a baby and stuff. As a result, I stopped reading and writing, and now here I am with some rare peace and quiet in the house, no conference calls to fill it up, and the urge to jot down a few thoughts. So why not about a book I read a while ago?
Let me start by saying I cannot actually remember the title of this book unless it’s written down somewhere. When people asked me what I was reading, I’d say, “that Guernsey Potato Peel book.” The entire title did not trip off my tongue the way I wanted it to.
I’d been hesitant to read it because I didn’t think I’d like it. And I was half right. I didn’t like the ending, which I’m not going to spoiler here. Otherwise I thought it was a sweet story with some moderately dark undertones – the kind of thing you don’t run across that often anymore now that we’re all living The Age of the Antihero through Showtime and HBO.
When I was a kid my mom had a great collection of Miss Read books. I used to devour them. There was something really lovely and mellow about those books to ten-year-old me. They wrote about people who knew and liked each other, who ate hot buttered toast and drank milky tea and looked out for their neighbours. This book was a lot like that, in that Julia finds herself in an idyllic community full of quirky characters. And really, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, not one thing. We probably need more of it and fewer stories about people who cook meth or fight to the death on TV or chop up pedophiles when the justice system fails.
The problem I had with this book, and it’s minor in some ways, is that the ending felt too neat and easy. Everything tied together so nicely, and perhaps quickly. I could see it coming, but maybe I needed a few more hurdles in the main character’s path before everything came to its natural conclusion. So I guess the story felt incomplete, in a way, when I knew it could have been rounded out without compromising the lovely sweetness that enveloped the book.
And maybe they could have eaten more hot buttered toast.