G(erald) B(asil) Edwards Phoebe-Lou Adams - Essay

Phoebe-Lou Adams

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The general shape of [The Book of Ebenezer Le Page] is plain enough. Le Page, a cantankerous old bachelor who has lived all his life on Guernsey, writes his autobiography, which is full of local details, trivia, anecdotes, Guernsey jokes (incomprehensible to an off-islander), family squabbles, characters who drift in and out to no purpose, and episodes that accomplish nothing. Against all reason these matters become intensely interesting, partly because Edwards had the true storyteller's power to command interest, and partly because the reader soon discovers that what looks like a minor character in a haphazard event can prove, some years and pages later, to be of major importance. In a place as small as Guernsey, where everyone knows everyone else's business and scandals linger for generations, the slightest gestures can be significant and are therefore carefully observed. The reader becomes a Guernsey native, constantly and warily on the lookout. All the rambling minutiae of daily life has, in the end, an application that reaches far beyond the island. Edwards is balancing the value of man's personal independence against the cost of maintaining it despite the inroads of twentieth-century society and female intransigence. (pp. 124, 126)

Phoebe-Lou Adams, "Short Reviews: 'The Book of Ebenezer Le Page'," in The Atlantic Monthly (copyright © 1981, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass.; reprinted with permission), Vol. 247, No. 4, April, 1981, pp. 124, 126.