Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Bettine Manktelow

To the Sandwich Bookshop this afternoon, for a special guest appearance by local author and fellow Deal Writer, Bettine Manktelow. Bettine was appearing as part of the Sandwich Festival and read from her new collection of short stories Mostly About Men. There was a fair turnout for a mid-afternoon, mid-week literary event, and after Bettine’s reading there was a lively discussion about the difficulties of publishing short stories in this country. Copies of Bettine’s collection, priced at £4.99 (paperback) are available from the Sandwich Bookshop and several outlets in Deal, or can be ordered through the Guilton Press website.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Review - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Juliet Ashton is a successful writer, author of the popular Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War column in the Spectator. But now it is 1946 and the war is over, and Juliet wants to put Izzy behind her and write a serious book in her own name. The problem is she has no idea what to write about. Then she receives a letter from a pig farmer on the Channel Island of Guernsey, a man called Dawsey Adams, who has acquired a second hand book by Charles Lamb that has Juliet’s name and address written inside the front cover. Dawsey is writing to Juliet because he loved the book – it helped keep his spirits up during the German Occupation – and he wonders if she knows of any other books by Charles Lamb. There are no bookshops left on the island, you see, since the Germans left. In passing, Dawsey mentions in his letter the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which came into being because of a roast pig they had to keep secret from the Germans, and Juliet is intrigued. Why, she writes back, did a roast-pig dinner have to be kept a secret? How could a pig cause them to establish a literary society? And, most pressing of all, what is a potato peel pie?

I found this book a joy to read. An old-fashioned epistolary novel, it is told entirely through the letters written between the characters, which in itself makes it light reading without being lightweight.

Read the full review on the The BookBag website.