"There may have been stranger literary events than the book you are about to read, but I rather doubt it...its voice and its method are so unusual that it belongs nowhere on our conventioanl litary maps...a remarkabke achievement." John Fowles The is a full-length portrait of a crusty, funny, contrary old man of the Channel Islands, on the distant coast of France.
I think this book should be considered a Classic. I enjoyed it, I laughed and learned a lot from it, and I think reading it made me a better, more tolerant person. In telling his life story, Ebenezer Le Page chronicles a good chunk of the history of his little island of Guernsey (both World Wars, the German Occupation, and the rise of tourism good and bad). For most of the book I was frustrated that Ebenezer was never able to find a life partner to settle down with, or a relative he deemed worthy of inheriting his worldly possessions, but in the end I rather tearfully realized he did gain those and more.
Through much of the book I have to admit I was distracted and unnecessarily preoccupied with Ebenezer's sexual proclivities, until finally I realized I don't know what his "inner devils" or "secret life" were, and it really doesn't matter. I think it's lovely that he had the relationships he had with who he had them with, and I'm just glad that today everybody can enjoy friendships unlimited by gender.
I love the repeating of history, and also the distribution of bonmots throughout: When you got nobody to love and nothing to live for, you can always make money; The verb for a man is to do, the verb for a woman is to have; (TV) gives people the idea they have seen and know everything, when really they have seen and know nothing. Ebenezer's depths of despair and misery are so hauntingly descriptive, and likewise reading of his heights of joy was transporting. I fell in love with crotchety old Ebenezer, and can only hope to age near as gracefully as he does.