Tonight Annie Barrows speaks for Westerville’s One Book, One Community event, so I was looking back at my thoughts on this book. I loved it, recommended it widely, bought it for friends and family of all ages (this one works for that!) and my book club read it, with one member even making a potato peel pie. Love the last quote below — I had forgotten that Pride and Prejudice was specifically mentioned, but it brought back how much this book is about books, the power of reading, and the connections that readers make — connections with the books, and to one another. No wonder it is one of my favorites! It must have also been one of the first books I put on Goodreads . . . in 2008!
One of the best books I have ever read. I’ve seldom enjoyed a book this much as I was reading it — it’s funny, tender, enlightening (I learned about a part of history I knew nothing about), compelling, tragic, romantic. But probably the reason I like it so much has to do with the underlying theme of books and the power of reading. How powerful books can be — they can help us escape in the midst of difficult situations, they have the power to connect people, to become friends, beloved companions, and help us make those connections.
Some favorite quotes:
“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive — all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” – Juliet Ashton, p. 10-11.
“We began to meet — for the sake of the Commandant at first, and then for our own pleasure. None of us had any experience with literary societies, so we made our own rules: we took turns speaking about the books we’d read. At the start, we tried to be calm and objective, but that soon fell away, and the purpose of the speakers was to goad the listeners into wanting to read the book themselves. Once two members had read the same book, they could argue, which was our great delight. We read books, talked books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another. Other Islanders asked to join us, and our evenings together became bright, lively times — we could almost forget, now and then, the darkness outside. We still meet every fortnight.” — Amelia Maugery, p. 50-51
“What on earth did you say to Isola? She stopped in on her way to pick up Pride and Prejudice and to berate me for never telling her about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Why hadn’t she known there were better love stories around? Stories not riddled with ill-adjusted men, anguish, death, and graveyards! What else had we kept from her?/ I apologized for such a lapse and said you were perfectly right, Pride and Prejudice was one of the greatest love stories ever written — and she might actually die of suspense before she finished it.” from Juliet to Sidney, p. 200