I took a bit of a break from The Count of Monte Cristo to rereread The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society. I’ve done this before to Dickens, and now I’ve done it to Dumas. Le sigh.
Many people can read several books at once. I cannot. I must immerse myself in one book completely or I lose the thread of the story and become confused about character portraits. It’s sort of like when I see someone who looks familiar and then realize that the person I’m thinking of lived in the town I lived in years ago and that this person cannot possibly be him. The people are out of context. I reread Guernsey again because my book club is discussing it this week and because I needed it. It’s a comfort book. There is so much sadness going on in the world right now that I needed the comfort. I adore Guernsey’s story, people, epistolary form, and I learn something new each time I read it. One thing that jumped out at me on this reread is that in occupying Guernsey, the Germans imported their own prostitutes. The Italians did the same in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Quartermaster’s list: rations, arms, munitions, uniforms, medical supplies, soap, whores. Check.
Speaking of my book club, I am responsible for the dessert for this week's meeting and wanted to find something authentic yet not too difficult. (I wound up buying the ingredients for trifle - not exactly innovative but at least it's English.) The kitchen and I aren't the best of friends. It isn't that I can't cook so much as I don't especially like to cook. If a recipe has more than five ingredients, I keep looking. So while I was Googling around I came upon an unknown book blog discussing Guernsey. One of the commenters said she especially liked the book because it isn't as much of a bummer as other WWII books. Bless her heart. She's young yet and I remember that naivety. I'm not sure she doesn't know that war by definition is a bummer, or that she doesn't want to focus on the despair of it all. But that despair is as much a part of life as the joy. One thing I wish someone had told me when I was 25 is that I would learn as much in the next ten years of my life as I had in the last ten. Or maybe someone did and I ignored it.
I finished the book quickly because I can scarcely put it down once I pick it up, and I’m back in the world of Monte Cristo and his intrigues. It is an intriguing world, that’s for certain.
Tolstoy: Dudes, she didn’t cheat on me with another book.
Dickens: It was all in the timing, Leo. I daresay if the wind had shifted a bit when she was reading one of your books, she would have taken a break then, too.
Dumas: We were on a break? Who am I, Ross Geller? Ma foi!
Dickens: There are strings in the human heart that had better not be vibrated.
Dumas: He’s quoting himself again.