G(erald) B(asil) Edwards GUERNSEY Le PELLEY - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A reader need not know of the Channel Islands to enjoy this remarkable book ["The Book of Ebenezer Le Page"]…. But only a true Guernseyman can feel all its reverberations, and here am I, two generations removed, attempting to share some of them….

Edwards's only book [is] unquestionably unique.

It is a story to be savored carefully, gently, its pervasive wisdom absorbed like the warmth of a jeweled island in the sun. The narrative has no conventional plot or structure. People and names flow in and out like the tides, as they are remembered.

The three copybooks in which Edwards painstakingly crafted the life story of Le Page and from which the novel is made were rendered in the island's quaint, colloquial English, which makes the sorrows and joys of his story cut deeper.

"The Book of Ebenezer Le Page" can be read as a many-layered love story. It records the passionate attachment of islanders to their island: the regard a community can have for one another beyond petty hatreds; Ebenezer's poignant, bittersweet enduring love for Liza, a woman he never possessed; and an instinctive longing to understand the underlying truth about the relationship of man to God, which Ebenezer and a few others try to see in the untidy world around them.

What makes the story shine is the treasure of arcane wisdom it contains, spoken offhandedly, or not spoken at all but only implied...

(The entire section is 542 words.)