Thursday, April 1, 2021

Review: The Girl from the Channel Islands

The Girl from the Channel Islands The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would not have typically read this novel, as I don't read many World War II novels (and I've already read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is a similar story during the same German occupation of British islands) but there are a few reasons this surfaced:

-I'm trying to finish reading a book from every country in Europe this year. I realize Jersey is not exactly a country but it's also not exactly a part of the UK. (The internet says it is part of the "British Islands."
-The author was actually born on Jersey and her parents lived on Jersey during the occupation, so she has more direct experience to speak of. I think this comes across in the novel, both from the research and the placeness of it.
-The four central characters are all based on real people, and so this issue of an Austrian (Jewish) woman escaping to an island that ends up occupied by Germans is a frightening and true story.
-While the very famous book club book I mentioned above is about resistance, this novel looks more at the people who collaborated/were forced to collaborate/were seen as collaborators. One woman works for the Germans because she is fluent in German and English. One woman marries a man living on the island who fled the mainland but ends up conscripted into the German army, and suddenly she's a collaborator and her family won't speak to her. And this is only the beginning of the complicated and difficult situations the islanders find themselves in, not to mention Churchill's resistance to sending them much needed food and supplies.

Jersey is a place I'll probably never get to visit, so I spent an hour last night poking around on Google maps and looking around. Apparently most tourists that go there these days are interested in the war history so they've really emphasized those locations on the island. When you see the British Islands on a map, Jersey is practically enfolded in a French bay, so it makes visual sense that the Germans would have seen it as an easy defenseless place to conquer.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. It came out February 2nd but I came across it after that somehow.

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