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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  1,134 Ratings  ·  234 Reviews
Ebenezer Le Page, cantankerous, opinionated, and charming, is one of the most compelling literary creations of the late twentieth century. Eighty years old, Ebenezer has lived his whole life on the Channel Island of Guernsey, a stony speck of a place caught between the coasts of England and France yet a world apart from either. Ebenezer himself is fiercely independent, but ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published June 24th 1982 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1981)
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Jan 17, 2017 Cody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb, 2017-top-ten
Even with the high rating here on goodreads, I am shocked by how strongly this book struck me. A novel about an ordinary life on Guernsey Island (located in the English Channel) does not sound overly enticing, but this book reminds us that there is no such thing as the ordinary. For all his shortcomings, Ebenezer is a well grounded soul who we would all do well to emulate. Needless to say, I found a lot to take away from his story.

This novel is not all roses, however. As one should expect in a
Apr 08, 2013 Dolors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Loners who are not lonely
Recommended to Dolors by: Ema
“The great rocks was not rocks, nor the sea sea, yet they was real as real; and the clouds was gates of glory, and every way I turned my eyes the view was waves of joy and golden light.”(480)

There is a place where waves of two seas meet,
to blend the water of their different shades,
the grey ones barging in from insulated shores,
embrace the foam of the silver redemptive sea.

Ebenezer Le Page sits in Les Moulins, his granite house where he has lived all his life on the Channel Island of Guerns
Dec 17, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: David
Does anything sound like less of a good time than listening to some crotchety old man wax nostalgic for his younger days, humoring him (in a patronizing way, of course) while he complains that times have changed? Very little pleases this person; he’s finicky, he’s bad-tempered, and his attitude toward his fellow man is depressingly sour. At first glance, Ebenezer Le Page might resemble this curmudgeonly type, and admittedly he is a curmudgeon on many levels, but there just happens to be somethin ...more
Oct 02, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crusty old man lit is more likely to show up on my shelf than my wife’s. But since she got me to read (and enjoy) Jane Austen, I figure I’m owed the chance to sell her on this unassuming little treasure – one that may well be the beau ideal of the whole curmudgeonly male canon. That’s my main goal with this review. For those of you who have already read the book (including 10 friends who gave it a total of 50 stars), please help me entice her. For those of you who have not, maybe we’ll convince ...more
I am going to start off by rating this book five stars and declare it one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. One in a billion.

Sitting here trying to capture my thoughts and feelings is a daunting exercise. All I want to do right now is bawl my eyes out, really! And let me make a confession right now: I am deeply, utterly and hopelessly in love with Ebenezer Le Page!

There is so much I want to say about Ebenezer Le Page. So I will try to keep it short. For those who treasure the
Nov 05, 2011 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is the kind of novel you don't really know in its truest sense until you've reached the very end. It's something like looking at vast panorama. If you consign your gaze to any particular detail, you inevitably miss the overwhelming sweep and grandeur of its totality. I don't mean to imply that there is some big, unexpected event at the end which changes how the reader understands the events which preceded it, but rather that it is the story of a life—and, yes, even l ...more
Many writers are keen observers of human nature, and many writers create narrators who are also writers and observers of human nature. Sometimes such protagonists are didactic tools, mere mouthpieces for the author. But sometimes they are so vividly drawn that they seem to pop off the page, and you look up, almost expecting to see them sitting across from you spinning a yarn or telling you their life story. Ebenezer Le Page is such a narrator.

The pace of his story is unhurried and seems to mean
Vit Babenco
Mar 08, 2014 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is sweetly old-fashioned and painstakingly humane and it exudes an aura of the best classical works.
It is a story of a man and an island…
“The older I get and the more I learn, the more I know I don't know nothing, me. I am the oldest on the island, I think. Liza Quenpel from Pleinmont say she is older; but I reckon she is putting it on. When she was a young woman, she used to have a birthday once every two or three years; but for years now she have been having two or
Angela M
Oct 02, 2014 Angela M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I was not immediately drawn in to this book . At first it felt like it was an old man just rambling about his family , about everyone he ever met and everything he encountered , none of which seemed very exciting. Ebenezer even gives a detailed account of what he ate as a boy . I had to look up ormer. Quite frankly I was bored and I wasn't sure if I could continue reading these mundane things , but then I knew I had to continue to try and see why there were so many 5 star reviews.

But at some poi
Dec 04, 2012 Jimmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jimmy by: Maureen
I feel inadequate to the task of reviewing this book. It's like asking me to review a person, which is impossible. But that's what this book is. More than any other character I've encountered in a book, Ebenezer comes fully fleshed. I loved him deeply, despite his flaws (or because of them), and because he doesn't bullshit. He has lived eighty odd years and he has no time for bullshit, his or anyone else's, and no reason to either. His language is rich, colloquial. Some will say quaint with a ne ...more
Oct 02, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars Gosh, this is a hard one to review. On the one hand it wouldn’t be difficult to overlook what I saw as its faults and sing its praises, especially because Edwards is an underdog and we all love an underdog. However, because this is what most reviewers seem to have done (average rating 4.26) I’m going to focus more on what for me were its negatives.

On the whole I enjoyed it and am glad I read it but it didn’t have me calling up my friends and urging them to read it. Basically my take w
Mar 20, 2010 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maureen by: Ben Loory
i have learned many things over the course of my life. now that i am older, knowledge comes in fits and spurts; and lately i have been seized, shaken like a fist, with new thoughts, and ideas about myself, and the order of things. and i seem to see the reflection of these views everywhere. i see them here, in the book of ebenezer le page, presented as the reminisces of a very old man, who is from the channel island of guernsey, and has watched the world change from his little stone house, as it ...more
Jun 10, 2013 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb
For the past month or so I have been rather MIA from goodreads (a fact many of my GR friends have pointed out. Sorry GR friends. I wasn't ignoring you; promise.). Though the reasons for this absence have been a bit varied in scope and importance, there is one undeniable fact that has overwhelmed my GR-starved brain: nerding out with awesome people on the internet about books is a mechanism that makes my life richer and more enjoyable. The complete appreciation of this fact has also made one othe ...more
Sep 18, 2013 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2013
'I live from day to day at the edge of living.'

The poet said said most men live lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with their song unsung. This is he swan song of G B Edwards, his one hit wonder, the one and only book he wrote that he didn't even live long enough to see published, and it may well be the best of its kind. A love song to his native island of Guernsey, from which he lived in exile for most of his adult life, a monumental fresco of its windblown vistas, its secretiv
May 06, 2013 Nicole~ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have of them.
- Marcel Proust

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page was completed in 1974; it was never seen published by its author, Gerald Basil Edwards (1899-1976)
Ebenezer's memoir relates provincial life on the Isle of Guernsey, in gradual inevitable motion, affected by The Great War and the German Occupation in WWII, on toward the second half of the twentieth century. His haunted memories are ironic, humorous, melancholic, deeply touching and se
Jan 22, 2013 knig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2013
Partaking in this ‘memoir’ straight off the back of Proust’s ISOLT proved a delicious immersion in in Queneau-stic ‘exercises in style’: how many ways can you parse a memory, bind over the past, resurrect it in the corner of the eye?

This quirky gem defies genre-fication. Liberally doused with Guernsey patois, the narrative falls into a dry, terpsichorean cadence wringing out pitch perfect amelioration from Franco-English linguistic start-ups.

A soporifically paced ‘domestic scene’ memory beginni
Dec 03, 2013 Tej rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: One and All
Recommended to Tej by: Dolors
I left Thee in anger, I knew not Thy worth,

Journeyed afar, to the ends of the earth,

Was told of far countries, the heaven of the hold,

Where the soil gave up diamonds, silver and gold.

The sun always shone, and ‘Race’ took no part,

But Thy cry always reached me, its pain wrenched my heart,

So I’m coming home, Thou of all art the best,

Returning to greet Thee, Dear Island of Rest.
(G. A. Deighton)

G B Edwards created through Ebenezer le page, a vehicle to give vent to his own most candid expression, h
M. Sarki
Jan 16, 2013 M. Sarki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-wonders
I am going to let this book gestate a bit before commenting too much about it. I will say it is one of the most heart-warming books I have ever read. Though there are many characters in the book it is apparent later on that the reader becomes somewhat intimate with the ones worthy of our warmest feelings. The written quality of the book sneaks up on you. I am giving the book five stars because the book was composed from the author's heart and he didn't much care if we liked it, read it, or not. ...more
Out of my current Goodreads friends, only one person has given this 3 stars. One person has given this 4 stars. The rest, an overwhelming number really, has given this 5 stars.

And then there's me. A curmudgeon like Ebenezer Le Page himself, all poopy-butt over the fact that Ebenezer Le Page did not interest me in the least.

Le Page is an elderly Guernseyman reflecting upon his life, because men reflecting on their lives is a thing that has never been done before. I've long wondered what it is lik
Like Stoner, this is a book with an appealing narrative attached, telling of an author scorned or marginalized during his lifetime, but recognized at his true worth after his death. The author of The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, G. B. Edwards (1899-1976), was an aspiring writer from his youth, but never had any literary success and ended his life a recluse. Ebenezer was published five years after his death, in 1981, and it enjoyed considerable acclaim. It was reissued by the New York Review of Book ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone and everyone
Recommended to Jonathan by: Richard
Shelves: favorites
"Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a lone one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences.

For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and kn
Jan 31, 2012 Declan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb
Imagine the scene: you enter an old pub in Guernsey and order a locally brewed ale. You look around and notice that most of the seats are taken. Over in one corner there is an unoccupied stool, next to an old man who appears to be alone. You too are alone and wouldn't mind a bit of company so, pint in hand, you go over and ask if he'd mind you sitting there. He appears quite pleased to have someone to talk to and the outlines of a conversation are lightly sketched. Soon the dialogue becomes more ...more
Jul 11, 2011 Chrissie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Toni
I will start this review with an excerpt. For me, it is the words and the writing style of an author that are the most important aspect of a book. Eighty year old Ebenezer, who has spent every day of his life on Guernsey, tells here of what happened one afternoon:

It was sun and cloud and wind and very cold, and yet for some reason I thought I would go in a churchyard before I went home. It don’t make me sad. It cheers me up to see the graves. I feel here at last I’m among Guernsey people. I had
Jun 11, 2013 RandomAnthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Ebenzer Le Page is a revelation. It's...well, it's not a normal book. It's not experimental (barf) or self-conscious of's just...different. In good ways. Let me count the ways.

I'm 44. Over the last year or two I've come aware increasingly aware both of my mortality and what it's like to be old. I like some aspects of getting older. Over the last four or five years I've felt calmer and better accepting of who I've become. Hell, I kind of like me. But I also know in a few
Nov 18, 2014 Howard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed my week with Ebenezer. I even found time for him during the busy holiday. His book was one of those rare books that I didn't want to end, but I also didn't want to stop reading.

Other readers have written superb reviews that make it unnecessary for me to write one of my own. My advice to any potential reader is to take a look at those reviews.
It was Margitte's fantastic, heartfelt championing of the book that led me to read it. Later, I re
For some reason I expected this book to be similar to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society because they were both set on the island of Guernsey. This was a bit like expecting Absalom, Absalom! to resemble The Help because they were both set in the American South. It wasn’t the book I expected: it was far better.

In fact, this is probably the best book that I’ve almost given up on in the middle. I almost set it aside not because it wasn’t good, but because I was finding it so heartbre
Betsy Robinson
Dec 18, 2015 Betsy Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
. . . its voice and method are so unusual that it belongs nowhere on our conventional literary maps.
writes John Fowles in the introduction to this epic novel about Guernseyman Ebenezer La Page. The sweep of this life comes with every possible detail and name of friends and relations imaginable (and it seems most people on Guernsey, an island world unto itself in the English Channel, are somehow related). Ebenezer writes his life story as one might speak it over decades of kitchen table chatter
Jun 26, 2011 Rod rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A semi-autobiographical novel written as the memoir of a crusty (yet kindhearted) old bachelor who has lived his entire life on the island of Guernsey, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is the only novel completed by G.B. Edwards, who didn't begin writing the novel until he was in his seventies. Discursive and digressive to the point that you begin to wonder if there is a point (hint: there is), Ebenezer's tale is nonetheless enthralling as you become swept up in his reminiscences of friends, family, ...more
My impression of Guernsey, from spending a few weeks there as a journalist some years back, was that it was an island with sixty-five thousand people and barely a dozen surnames between them. You get the same idea reading The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, all the characters of which are continually discovered to be distant third or fourth cousins of each other. I like this novel, but it didn't make quite the impression on me that it seems to have made on others – I wonder if the dramatic story of ho ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 02, 2012 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: NYRB
This took me a while to read. While it is written in a very believable and interesting Guernsey English, nothing much happens. Ebenezer Le Page writes three books about his life, really focusing on the turn of the century up until the first world war, then through the second world war, and then the period up to his death as tourism and telecommunications move in.

The two other books I've read set on Guernsey both focus on the German occupation, and I did enjoy getting to see some of island life b
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NYRB Classics: The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, by G.B. Edwards 3 32 Jan 30, 2016 06:05AM  
NYRB Classics: March-April 2012: The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 50 86 Jun 01, 2012 03:29PM  
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Edwards is known for The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, which was published posthumously in 1981. Edwards had worked on his great novel for many years but only completed it towards the end of his life, presenting the typescript to his friend Edward Chaney in August 1974, rather in the manner that the fictional Ebenezer bequeaths his 'Book' to Neville Falla in the novel. The typescript was rejected by a ...more
More about G.B. Edwards...

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“I don’t know what young fellows want to go in for those sort of things for?” I said. “Wars are a waste of time; and advertising is all lies.” “I am afraid, my dear Mister Le Page,” he said, looking very sorry for me, “you are an anachronism.” 8 likes
“In the twinkling of an eye a veil is lifted; and you see with other eyes and hear with other ears and are given another understanding.” 8 likes
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