My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Unfortunately, I did not fall in love with Juliet, our protagonist, as most everyone else in this book did, and I cannot find her love for these people genuine. Fascination, yes. The historical chapter the islanders lived through–and readily told to Juliet–is fascinating, and the smaller stories within it also add depth to a common history.
What bothers me the most is that Juliet is so taken by the life of Elizabeth,(founder of the Society, and who was forced off the island) that she not only finds many similarities in their lives, but assumes her life completely in the end: adopting her daughter, living in her house, even being loved by the same man. No one on the island thought this was weird? Or uncomfortable?
Aside from all of Juliet’s many character flaws, this book does not convince me that she is a good writer. Throughout, she excuses the success of the Izzy columns as conforming to the publisher’s request, and not what she’s capable of writing. Her letters though (the only writing we ever get to read of hers) are as flippant, self-centered, gossipy, and contrived as I imagine the published columns were. As the reader, we are not treated to any excerpts of the Bronte biography, or the Times article, though the islanders apparently were allowed to read them. There is no evidence Juliet is capable of greater things.
This I fault mostly to the writers, and their lack of artistry. A better writer would have given us everything–or at least made Juliet’s letters an exquisite pleasure to read (she is a writer after all). Isola’s journal inclusion at the end was a cop-out. It wouldn’t have done to have Juliet write a long letter to her dearest childhood friends (whom she’s been corresponding with this whole time) about something so important?
I get it, though. Guernsey is supposed to be a little paradise. Where no one suffers from PTSD, and all the folks are friendly as can be. Storybook. A place outsiders fall in love with and want for themselves.
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