This is one of those novels that comes along every so often that everyone will want to read, young, old, male, female. A witty and delightful page-turner, it tells the story in letter form of Juliet, a young self-deprecating author and is set just after the end of the second world war. Keen to begin a new and challenging project she finds out by chance about the society of the title which formed during the German occupation of Guernsey. Intrigued by its bizarre name (which is explained), she soon begins exchanging letters with its members and finds out about their personalities as well as the hardship they all suffered.
That is the basic gist but, as in all great stories, there is much more to it than that. One of the society members, Elizabeth, was arrested for harbouring a slave worker and sent to a concentration camp. She has not returned and she is very much missed. Elizabeth's story is harrowing in the extreme and is largely what prevents the novel from becoming too twee and saccharine.
I knew Guernsey was occupied during the war but I never realised (shame on me) until I read this novel just how awful life was under occupation. The fortitude and resourcefulness of the island's inhabitants, who are by no means saints and the way they welcome Juliet in their midst is heart-warming and if the conclusion, the love-story and a sub-plot about some letters by Oscar Wilde, are all too good to be true, I am prepared to waive any criticism because of the underlying darkness that I can't ever forget. It would make a great film but before that I guarantee the novel will be a huge best-seller.