Character study

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was delicious reading.

Last week, while my body was on a barrier island in North Carolina, my spirit was living in 1946, in the coastal town of St. Peter Port, in the Channel Islands, between France and England.  Fate takes the main character, a writer, to Guernsey, where she chronicles the stories of its people, who had survived—some not—the German Occupation of their island during World War II. 

It’s hard for me to shake a book.  Same thing with movies.  I linger in the setting for a bit, enjoying the company of the characters as if they were my closest friends, even adopting their speaking styles.  After reading the book, it was hard to resist the tendency to use “fancy” as a verb and utter words such as “twaddle” that don’t otherwise roll off my pedestrian American tongue.  I loved every page of this book and beg you to pick up a copy and dive in.

While on the Outer Banks I also enjoyed early morning coffee at the ocean’s edge and an occasional champagne at sunset.  I ate as much fresh seafood and key lime pie as humanly possible.

Also on this trip, my husband and I undertook a social experiment.  When eating out, instead of sitting at a table, we pledged to eat at the bar of each restaurant we visited, and get to know the people on either side of us.  Sometimes we sat long enough to get to know several rounds of patrons.

Our dining practice did indeed spur some fascinating conversations. 

At one place, we happened to sit next to a man we had met the previous summer—a retired high school basketball coach from the county where I grew up.  We met a sober-looking woman who ordered a cocktail made of six different liquors.  Another night we were drawn into giggling group of women in their sixties, away for a girls’ weekend. 

At Awful Arthur’s Oyster Bar, I struck up a conversation with a woman who had ridden to North Carolina on a motorcycle from Middle Tennessee.  I was familiar with Middle Tennessee because I have two very smart, clever and well-read friends from there.

This woman asked me where I was from.  I replied that I was from the Washington, D.C., area. 

She raised her eyebrows.  “Washington, D.C.?  Ain’t that where the president lives?”

Guernsey 1946 or Kill Devil Hills 2010, over potato peel pie or key lime, it doesn’t matter.  Interesting characters are everywhere if you just pull up a stool and ask, “where y’all from?”

5 Comments

Filed under Family and Friends, Food, Reading, Travel

5 responses to “Character study

  1. William Greene

    … and to those you might remember meeting before, you inquire “How-ya-mom-n-em?”, to which they would be expected to respond “fine, how ya whole damn family?

    Thank you, Monica, for documenting the life along the ocean shore, including Mickey Spillane’s choice of home: Murrells Inlet SC, where you always eat at the bar!

  2. deirdre

    I too loved TG3PS. Suggest Invisible Wall and Sarah’s Key. Similar themes.

  3. chris

    well ain’t it?

  4. Ellen

    I loved the book too. This piece was so well done, Monica. I really felt like I was at the beach. You took me away! Soon it will be Rehoboth!
    Thanks.

  5. Sheree Moyer

    My friend, blogs such as this one sum up why I love you so! Rock on baby! And keep that wonderful, bright, witty, open hearted nature of yours shining on all it touches!

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