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Island of Steel

Posted on the 10 October 2012 by Drharrietd @drharrietd


I've always been fascinated by the Channel Islands, or the Isles Anglo-Normandes, as the French call them. Most people think they are part of the UK but Wikipedia tells me they are actually "considered remnants of the Duchy of Normandy", to which they were first annexed in 933. Be that as it may, they are a good deal closer to France than they are to England, and many places, and indeed people (remember Bergerac?) have French names, although the currency, language and shops are British.

I've never visited these islands but I discovered recently that I could take a day trip from St Malo, not far from where I live, and so I'm going to Guernsey in a few weeks' time. And by a happy coincidence, I've also been reading a new novel which is set on that very island during World War Two. 

The fact that the Germans occupied the Channel Islands in WW2 is quite a chilling thought  -- if things had gone a different way, the experiences of the inhabitants could have been shared by everyone living in the United Kingdom. So I was really interested to read Island of Steel, which takes place largely in Guernsey, and very entertaining and informative it is, too. It's an adventure story, really, but as you'll know from my recent post on Rogue Male, I'm open to reading those at the moment.

The novel centres on the experiences of a small group of people who have ended up together by pure chance. Three are servicemen, one American and two British. Having encountered each other in Normandy, they set about making their way back to England by sea, helped by two French resistence fighters, but following a shipwreck they all get stranded on the island of Guernsey.  They are then asked by the War Office to undertake a seemingly impossible task, the capture of a high-ranking German officer. Fine -- if they could work as a team. But they are all independent, even maverick, and can't begin to agree on the best way to proceed. The problems of living in occupied territory, with the impossibility of proper communication either with each other or with their superiors back in London, adds greatly to their difficulties. The novel captures well the pains and privations of living under German rule and the bravery of the local inhabitants who have to put up with it as best they can. Some lighthearted moments and some exciting adventures -- all great fun.

The novel is at present only available on Kindle -- and a bargain at 99p. I have not got a Kindle but can read books on my iphone or my computer. And so can you, so why not? You can see the author talking about it here.

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