** spoiler alert **
Oh, I feel like a bitch, but this book was just...too heartwarming, if there is such a thing. Despite the Nazi horrors, everyone is transformed by the redemptive power of reading, and there is a happy ending for everyone who isn't dead. The nasty rich old boyfriend gets the push (yay!), Juliet moves to the infinitely better Guernsey (yay!), marries the silent-but-apparently-irresistible islander (yay!), and adopts a cute little kid orphaned by the Nazis (more yay!).
Naturally, none of this is at all predictable. Well, the only bit that isn't predictable is that she marries a guy who seems to be utterly unattractive. He's a stolic, withdrawn, silent lover of Charles Lamb. Juliet only fell for him after he pulled the old trick of acting like he fancied some other girl and ignoring her. But don't worry! Juliet hems and haws over her romantic choices at great length with her homegirl, so there are no surprises coming.
The book's fine. It's just not really my type. It's too...literary chick-lit for me; it makes me feel manipulated, in some way I have no hope of analysing. Turn Left at the Daffodils
was a similar experience. The story was interesting, but I felt like my reactions to the characters and plot was too engineered - like someone was holding up a sign saying "Be sad here" or "Woo, here's a happy bit, celebrate!".
I guess most fiction is intended to create particular emotions and reactions as the book is read, so what's the difference? I think it's a bit like when someone makes a nice comment about you - you always stop and ask yourself if it was flattery or genuine. You would be embarrassed with yourself if you let yourself believe a comment was truly meant when you suspected it was just flattery. Make any sense? Probably not.John's review
of You Shall Know Our Velocity!
explores rather more eloquently what I was trying to say above:
I'm a little torn here, because I feel like I was supposed to like this book, so part of me wants to pretend that I didn't like it. It's like a movie where you know they are trying to make you cry, and you do cry, and then feel bad about it because you know that they played you like a fiddle.