Book Notes—The Book of Ebenezer LePage

It’s funny how when you remember, you can’t choose what to remember.

I knew nothing about Guernsey a week ago, and now I’m itching to go. If I had to guess, I’d have said it was in Great Britain and been only kinda-sorta right. Although a British Dependency, Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands off Normandy, France, a charming and historic rock that is a little larger than Bermuda. Check it out at Guernsey from Above.

Whether you speak English or French (the official language until 1948), you can get along there. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a bilingual old-timer in a talkative mood, someone like the Ebenezer Lepage, whose strength is surpassed only by his opinions. Clever, cantankerous, and caring, this fictional octogenarian is a one-man tour-de-force of culture and history, including the German occupation, as he narrates a three-volume memoir of progress and the lack thereof throughout the Twentieth Century.

That’s 394 pages of personal vignettes told in a halting patois that, although plodding at times, is  punctuated with tragedy and comedy. I recommend the 21 ½ hour Audible recording narrated by Roy Dotrice as being as authentic-sounding and sincere as author G.B. Edwards might have wished.  

Old Ebenezer has a lot to say about money (he buries his), the young these days (born old), marriage (a lonely affair), God (He has no will), and the sea—never far from his thoughts or table. Despite his many relations and friends, he leads a solitary existence and, this frustrated love story reaches an amusing denouement as the geezer searches for a worthy heir to his birthright.

One final aspect of this book which I appreciate as a handwriting analyst is Ebenezer’s appreciation for letters. I have for two years been keeping a log of books whose characters take note of others’ script, and he is such a one. Though not educated, he cherishes such handwritten notes and can identify pretty near any of his kith and kin by a glance at their penmanship. How charming is that?!