Books about Guernsey. · Misc. Lit

The Collaborator by Margaret Leroy.

I’m on a roll, reading wise! (CONTAINS SPOILERS.)

I read this out of curiosity, as happens with many of the books that I read. Its set in Guernsey in the 1940s, during the time when Germany occupied the small island. Now, I don’t know how many of you are Guernsey-dwellers (if at all.) but I myself am, and I have immense respect for the island’s war heritage, and I decided to read this because while I knew plenty about the time that the island endured under the Germans, I had only read history books on the subject.

The Collaborator is the story of Vivienne de la Mare, a woman living with 2 daughters and a mother-in-law, and the family are living next to a house taken over by Germans. As Vivienne tries to survive the daily struggles of the occupation, she falls in love with Gunther, a German soldier living in the house next door. Slowly, a romance develops and many other complications are thrown into the melee, such as a worker called Kirill who is being smuggled food by Vivienne’s youngest daughter, Millie, and Vivienne’s struggle to try and appear to be a faithful wife to her husband, Eugene, who is away fighting and with whom she endured an unhappy marriage before the war due to his infidelity.

The book paints a picture of Occupation Guernsey which is slowly slipping away from us as those who witnessed it become older and die off, without telling their stories. A well-researched book (Margaret Leroy isn’t natively from Guernsey), it brings the time period to life. The ending was sweet, and one of the few occasions where overdramatized description is not needed.

I personally would’ve wanted Gunther and Vivienne to have a happy ending. But that’s just me.


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