Monday, August 17, 2015

On the Train -- Inkling Explorations for August


The theme for Heidi Peterson's Inkling Explorations link-up this month is:  "A scene happening on/at/around a train or train station."  I have decided to share a passage from near the opening of one of my favorite books, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  It's an epistolary novel set just after WWII has ended, and this is part of a letter from the protagonist, Juliet Ashton, to a friend:

Night-time train travel is wonderful again!  No standing in the corridors for hours, no being shunted off for a troop train to pass, and above all, no black-out curtains.  All the windows we passed were lighted, and I could snoop once more.  I missed it so terribly during the war.  I felt as if we had all turned into moles scuttling along in our separate tunnels.  I don't consider myself a real peeper -- they go in for bedrooms, but it's families in sitting rooms or kitchens that thrill me.  I can imagine their entire lives from a glimpse of bookshelves, or desks, or lit candles, or bright sofa cushions (p. 13-14).

That's the passage that first made me feel like I could be friends with Juliet.  Because I do exactly the same thing when I'm riding in a car past houses at night -- I look in windows and see what the rooms inside are like and imagine what the people inside must be like based on that scrap of their world that I've seen.  Juliet is also a writer, and perhaps that's a writerly proclivity?  I don't know.  But that passage in TGLAPPPS has always stuck in my mind as a perfect description of one of my own habits.



If you want to know more about this book, and why I love it, you can read my full review here.

14 comments:

  1. I've heard nothing but good things about this book so I'm off to add it to my reading list!

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    1. Carissa, the only bad thing I can say about this book is that there are a characters who're gay and feel a little bit like they're made to be gay just to let all the other characters show how nice they are by accepting them. But on a whole, it's delicious.

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  2. I just bought this book at a library sale, so I'll be reading it soon!!! I've heard such good things about it for years.

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    1. Emma, I hope you like it! Like I said above, I have only one thing I don't like about it, but that one thing is FAR outweighed by all the other wonderfulness. I found it at a library book sale too!!!

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  3. That sounds awesome--actually, it reminds me of one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels, "4:50 from Paddington." Of course, being Agatha Christie, that's about somebody witnessing a murder in an opposite train car--but still, it's the same sort of idea.

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    1. Jessica, that AC novel sounds very familiar -- I think I may have read it when I was in high school and on a Christie kick.

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    2. Yes--I think everybody (or at least everybody who likes British lit) goes on an Agatha Christie binge at least once during their teenage years :) Are you more of a Poirot person or a Miss Marple person? (Myself, I'm a Miss Marple person. I LOVE her.)

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    3. Very likely. I liked Poirot better, but my mom has recently discovered Miss Marple and loves her.

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  4. Hamlette, I want to read this book SOO badly. :-) Thanks for telling me of it!

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    1. Naomi, read it!!!!! It is charming and sweet and funny and poignant.

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    2. I ordered it today on Amazon! I can't WAAAIT for it to arrive. :-)

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    3. Oh my goodness! Naomi, that is so cool -- I hope you adore it :-)

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  5. I keep hearing about this one! And I've heard about that subplot element, too.... how pervasive is it in the writing? Hmmm. Because that excerpt is delicious. :)

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    1. It's been 5 years since I read it, so I don't remember how pervasive it is. It's part of the story -- people conspired to keep the Nazis from learning a friend is gay so the Nazis wouldn't send him to a concentration camp -- but it's not a huge story element.

      You know, I'm starting to really itch to read this again. (This seems to be a side effect of posting about books for these series, huh? I felt pulled to reread Laura after posting about it too.) It might be a good antidote for the hopelessness of Of Mice and Men...

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