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debbook
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

I didn't notice that until you said something but you're right. That's interesting.

damokosh wrote:

Although I may have missed it I noticed not a single letter was written FROM Sophie.  I've been discussing various theories with some friends (I have a particularly far out theory) and we were wondering if you or anybody would be willing to comment.


 

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Annie_Barrows
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows


debbook wrote:
Did you guys make up Potato Peel Pie?

Nope. Potato Peel Pie is an authentic WWII article. It was mentioned in one of the memoirs we read. We didn't have a recipe, but since there was virtually no food on the island (for the islanders) after 1941, we figured there couldn't have been many ingredients. When I made it, it was just potatoes, a tiny bit of milk, and a beet. If you kind of squint, it looks like a raspberry pie because of the beet, but it tastes like paste.


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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows


literature wrote:
Were all the characters invented from the onset or did they come along as the novel progressed?

Juliet and Elizabeth were always the center of the story, and the other major characters came in very early. Many of the later arrivals were those folks on the Island who wrote to Juliet about their wartime experiences--Sally Ann Frobisher and Micah Daniels, for example. Many characters grew enormously in importance as we went on. 


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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows


damokosh wrote:

Although I may have missed it I noticed not a single letter was written FROM Sophie.  I've been discussing various theories with some friends (I have a particularly far out theory) and we were wondering if you or anybody would be willing to comment.


Aha! A close reader! I'd love to hear your theories, and they're probably more interesting than the truth, which is that Sophie's voice, as we imagined it, was too close to Juliet's--same age, same education, similar life experience. Also, I think one of the fabulous characteristics of novels written in letters is what's NOT there. That way the reader is goaded into working for us. Thanks!


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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows


Fozzie wrote:
Annie, could you tell me what kind of research went into the Holocaust details put into the book?  I found the details startling and horrifying!  Just when I think I could not imagine any more horrid things that occurred, I am introduced to a few more, as I was in this book. 

Both Mary Ann and I read a fair amount about the Holocaust. I think Mary Ann was particularly affected by the story of a Danish resistance fighter named Kim Malthe-Brunn, who was one of the inspirations for Elizabeth. Of course, the details of what Elizabeth, Remy, and Booker experienced were invented, but the scenario at the Women's Block in Ravensbruck is historically accurate, as is the description of the treatment of the prisoners. Likewise, Booker's experiences at Neuengamme, including that bit about clearing unexploded bombs during air-raids and his transfer to Belsen, are based on memoirs of people who were there. What occured during the last days at Belsen seems impossible, but every bit of that is documented (on film, even). If you're interested in further research, I'd recommend beginning at the website of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.

 


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damokosh
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

Thanks for the response.  My theory, which was soundly trashed by my friends, was that Sophie had died in some war related tragedy.  My thinking was that both Juliet and Sydney continued to write partly because it bound them together, partly because it might still be too devasting to both of them to think she is no longer part of their lives, and partly in place of writing to a personal journal.  I realize there are several letters to Sophie where this theory is on very shakey ground but it struck me as so odd that she was the only person to not have responded to a single letter, my mind had to create a reason to fit the situations.

 

Thanks again for the quick response and for the rest of book club, we really enjoyed your book.

 

Best Regards. 

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literature
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

I glanced through the book quickly again and you are right, I didn't see any letters written by Sophie.  I am going to reread the book and see what I pick up.  There were a few times when I was reading the book initially that I thought considering what good friends Sophie and Juliet were in boarding school, shouldn't there have been more correspondence between them.  Juliet reached out to Sophie about her dilema with Mark and  Sophie should have been more supportive.   Also, I don't remember reading anything about Sophie's outside interests.  Now you really have me curious.  I will reread the book and get back to you.  I'm in the path of  the tropical storm Hanna today so I will curl up on the sofa and read.
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows


damokosh wrote:

Thanks for the response.  My theory, which was soundly trashed by my friends, was that Sophie had died in some war related tragedy.  My thinking was that both Juliet and Sydney continued to write partly because it bound them together, partly because it might still be too devasting to both of them to think she is no longer part of their lives, and partly in place of writing to a personal journal.  I realize there are several letters to Sophie where this theory is on very shakey ground but it struck me as so odd that she was the only person to not have responded to a single letter, my mind had to create a reason to fit the situations.

 

Thanks again for the quick response and for the rest of book club, we really enjoyed your book.

 

Best Regards. 


Interesting idea, but wouldn't that cause you to doubt the rest of the story? I mean, if she's unreliable enough to pretend that Sophie's still alive, she might be unreliable enough to make up Dawsey and the Guernsey Literary and Potato  Peel Pie Society, and that would be a great disappointment. I'd hate to think my lovely Juliet wasn't reasonable. A side-note--there are several points at which we learn of letters we don't get to read ourselves. Look at page 107, where Juliet tells Dawsey that she's received another letter from Adelaide Addison; it's not in the book. We authors are a tricky lot.

 


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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows


literature wrote:
I glanced through the book quickly again and you are right, I didn't see any letters written by Sophie.  I am going to reread the book and see what I pick up.  There were a few times when I was reading the book initially that I thought considering what good friends Sophie and Juliet were in boarding school, shouldn't there have been more correspondence between them.  Juliet reached out to Sophie about her dilema with Mark and  Sophie should have been more supportive.   Also, I don't remember reading anything about Sophie's outside interests.  Now you really have me curious.  I will reread the book and get back to you.  I'm in the path of  the tropical storm Hanna today so I will curl up on the sofa and read.

It's not that Sophie didn't write letters--we see that she did because Juliet refers to them--it's just that they aren't included in the book. Sophie is a good friend, really she is. Remember when she comes to visit Juliet in Leeds just after the Teapot Incident?


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debbook
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

I loved the teapot incident. That's where we learn that Juliet is a strong personality. No one was going to keep her away from The Literary Society

Annie_Barrows wrote:

literature wrote:
I glanced through the book quickly again and you are right, I didn't see any letters written by Sophie.  I am going to reread the book and see what I pick up.  There were a few times when I was reading the book initially that I thought considering what good friends Sophie and Juliet were in boarding school, shouldn't there have been more correspondence between them.  Juliet reached out to Sophie about her dilema with Mark and  Sophie should have been more supportive.   Also, I don't remember reading anything about Sophie's outside interests.  Now you really have me curious.  I will reread the book and get back to you.  I'm in the path of  the tropical storm Hanna today so I will curl up on the sofa and read.

It's not that Sophie didn't write letters--we see that she did because Juliet refers to them--it's just that they aren't included in the book. Sophie is a good friend, really she is. Remember when she comes to visit Juliet in Leeds just after the Teapot Incident?


 

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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

No, not really as it seemed like a clever way for the reader to learn about other aspects of Juliet's life without it being forced or contrived.  At least for me it didn't challenge the veracity of the rest of her story.  It felt more like peaking into her personal journal.

 

I admit there are several places of indirect evidence that blows holes in my theory and you have helped me change my mind.  Sometimes one spends a lot of effort trying to fit the empirical data to a theory rather than the other way around.

 

 

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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows


damokosh wrote:

No, not really as it seemed like a clever way for the reader to learn about other aspects of Juliet's life without it being forced or contrived.  At least for me it didn't challenge the veracity of the rest of her story.  It felt more like peaking into her personal journal.

 

I admit there are several places of indirect evidence that blows holes in my theory and you have helped me change my mind.  Sometimes one spends a lot of effort trying to fit the empirical data to a theory rather than the other way around.

 

 


  Happens to me all the time. 


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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

Sophie is still alive as she does write Juliet toward the end that she is pregrant again.  Juliet does respond to Sophie's letter, she makes reference to that in her letters and as well as meeting Sophie on one of her trips.  I figured that Sophie's life had become very quiet (maybe boring, but she didn't want to complain) living on the farm and raising her son and that Sophie was living the more interesting life through Juliet's letters.
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

How come Mr. Fox never joined the Literary Society?  You do not mention him after he closes the book store.  I hoped he had not encountered ill fate.
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows


literature wrote:
How come Mr. Fox never joined the Literary Society?  You do not mention him after he closes the book store.  I hoped he had not encountered ill fate.

 

Well, that's an interesting question. I didn't actually come up with a fate for Mr. Fox, but let's make one now. I would hate for him to come to an unfortunate end, so no arrests or death in prison or anything malign. Here's what comes to mind. 1. Mr. Fox IS a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (not all the members write letters, e.g., Jonas Skeeter) and is constantly telling the rest of the members not to break the binding, dog-ear the pages, or write in the margins. 2. Mr. Fox became so enraged when he learned that books were being burnt for fuel during the Occupation that he set sail for the island of Herm with the remnants of his collection and now lives in a dugout on that unpopulated island. He lives to a vast old age and throws rocks at picnickers who visit the island.  Any other ideas, anyone?


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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

Re Mr. Fox,  Theory #1:  I could not see any one who owned a book store being a silent member of a book club.  He loved his books too much, wasn't that why he closed the book store.  Besides, I would think some one would have made mention of him in one of their letters.  Theory #2:  I liked that theory  but I did not like the part "...and throws rocks at picnickers who visit the island.".   Mr. Fox was such a caring and gentle person and went out of his way to fill book requests.  I know that the war might have hardened him to extremes but I would hope not that much.  I'm okay with him living as a hermit with his books for the remainder of the war and then slowly surfacing as things settled down.  Perhaps, opening up a book store again or organizing a literary group. 

 

Driving to work this morning I was thinking how nice it would be to be somewhere remote with a book group discussing your book, perhaps even with the members of the Literacy Society but not in a war.  Then I open up my emails and read your response about being on an unpopulated island.

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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows


literature wrote:

Re Mr. Fox,  Theory #1:  I could not see any one who owned a book store being a silent member of a book club.  He loved his books too much, wasn't that why he closed the book store.  Besides, I would think some one would have made mention of him in one of their letters.  Theory #2:  I liked that theory  but I did not like the part "...and throws rocks at picnickers who visit the island.".   Mr. Fox was such a caring and gentle person and went out of his way to fill book requests.  I know that the war might have hardened him to extremes but I would hope not that much.  I'm okay with him living as a hermit with his books for the remainder of the war and then slowly surfacing as things settled down.  Perhaps, opening up a book store again or organizing a literary group. 

 

Driving to work this morning I was thinking how nice it would be to be somewhere remote with a book group discussing your book, perhaps even with the members of the Literacy Society but not in a war.  Then I open up my emails and read your response about being on an unpopulated island.


Okay, we can have a modified #2, where he returns from Herm in 1948 and opens up another bookstore. But every summer he closes the bookstore for a month and returns to his dugout in Herm to read in peace and quiet. Sounds nice, doesn't it?


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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

[ Edited ]

I loved the idea that not every single letter was included to tell the story of Juliet and the Guernsey Literary Society.  It made the book seem more like a "real" collection of letters, like Jane Austen's or James Joyce's, whether letters are missing either by deliberate action (like Cassandra Austen's on her sister's) or by accident (say someone spilled their tea on the letter and all the ink ran, causing them to throw the letter away).


Annie_Barrows wrote:


damokosh wrote:

Although I may have missed it I noticed not a single letter was written FROM Sophie.  I've been discussing various theories with some friends (I have a particularly far out theory) and we were wondering if you or anybody would be willing to comment.


Aha! A close reader! I'd love to hear your theories, and they're probably more interesting than the truth, which is that Sophie's voice, as we imagined it, was too close to Juliet's--same age, same education, similar life experience. Also, I think one of the fabulous characteristics of novels written in letters is what's NOT there. That way the reader is goaded into working for us. Thanks!


 

Message Edited by pedsphleb on 09-09-2008 03:31 PM
Melissa W.
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

If we look at the book as a historical collection of letters kept by someone in Juliet's family, perhaps we could think that Juliet sent all Sophie's letters to her in a bundle perhaps as a gift to one of Sophie's children :smileyhappy:


Annie_Barrows wrote:


literature wrote:
I glanced through the book quickly again and you are right, I didn't see any letters written by Sophie.  I am going to reread the book and see what I pick up.  There were a few times when I was reading the book initially that I thought considering what good friends Sophie and Juliet were in boarding school, shouldn't there have been more correspondence between them.  Juliet reached out to Sophie about her dilema with Mark and  Sophie should have been more supportive.   Also, I don't remember reading anything about Sophie's outside interests.  Now you really have me curious.  I will reread the book and get back to you.  I'm in the path of  the tropical storm Hanna today so I will curl up on the sofa and read.

It's not that Sophie didn't write letters--we see that she did because Juliet refers to them--it's just that they aren't included in the book. Sophie is a good friend, really she is. Remember when she comes to visit Juliet in Leeds just after the Teapot Incident?


 

Melissa W.
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debbook
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Re: Questions for Annie Barrows

And our generation can pass along emails to our children. Hmm, doesn't seem as sentimental as letters

pedsphleb wrote:

If we look at the book as a historical collection of letters kept by someone in Juliet's family, perhaps we could think that Juliet sent all Sophie's letters to her in a bundle perhaps as a gift to one of Sophie's children :smileyhappy:


Annie_Barrows wrote:


literature wrote:
I glanced through the book quickly again and you are right, I didn't see any letters written by Sophie.  I am going to reread the book and see what I pick up.  There were a few times when I was reading the book initially that I thought considering what good friends Sophie and Juliet were in boarding school, shouldn't there have been more correspondence between them.  Juliet reached out to Sophie about her dilema with Mark and  Sophie should have been more supportive.   Also, I don't remember reading anything about Sophie's outside interests.  Now you really have me curious.  I will reread the book and get back to you.  I'm in the path of  the tropical storm Hanna today so I will curl up on the sofa and read.

It's not that Sophie didn't write letters--we see that she did because Juliet refers to them--it's just that they aren't included in the book. Sophie is a good friend, really she is. Remember when she comes to visit Juliet in Leeds just after the Teapot Incident?


 


 

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