Guernsey, for all its past history as an occupied Island during WW2 and it’s more recent one as a financial hub, is also a place for writers. It’s also part of a Bailiwick so it does include the islands of Alderney, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Sark.
A quick Google search via Wiki comes up with this, an interest list. We’ve all heard of Victor Hugo, scribbling away in his Hauteville Garret with views over Castle Cornet. I never met him 😆 but I actually once met a man who knew someone that did… Two others on the list I know well, one actually lives in the same retirement home as a relative. I also had the pleasure of meeting George Torode in person, a raconteur of unprecedented proportions. If you ever come across any of his Donkey books snap them up (a different George to the chef)
But the list isn’t complete…
it includes Guernsey expats as Victor sure wasn’t local…
Where is Elizabeth Goodge and Green Dolphin Country? A fantastic writer, The White Witch still features in my best top ten reads ever.
Where is Betty Neels? Betty who? Okay so I know you’ve never heard of her but just how many writers are mentioned in their readers obituaries? I know it’s morbid but that’s just how much this writer and her books meant to so many people. Betty’s gentle romances, often set in Holland but also set in Guernsey, have been enjoyed and are still being enjoyed and talked about today.
Where is Elizabeth Bereaford? The creator of The Wombles or indeed…where is fellow expat Alderney writer, Rachel Abbott? She’s just signed a two book deal with Headline. There’s also another debut, Jill Watson missing…Alderney doesn’t even appear on Wiki as a writer hub mmm…
What about Mary Ann Schaffer and That Book? Mary wasn’t local. She only stopped off here on a cruise and yet her book has endeared Guernsey to many of her readers.
And of course I’m not there😂…
And then there’s Lara Dearman…
Lara is local but now lives in New York. Her debut novel, The Devil’s Claw is set in Guernsey and is one hell of a thriller.
Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer Dorey has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.
After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.
Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected.But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.
Well I’m not sure I’ll be visiting The Fairy Ring anytime soon, a little piece of Guernsey history entrappped in folklore. A ring of stones facing Hanois Lighthouse. No one knows exactly how they got there but thousands of island children have stepped around them or tried to – I’ve always fallen off. Now all I see is dead bodies…
it’s actually strange reading a book set so close to home. I walk these streets. I’ve even got the same name as the lead character and I know the Doreys (a well known local name). This is a well-written debut set in an amazing location and full of snippets of local life. Having the lead as a reporter for the local press was genius as any ‘Guern’ will know of our small Island ramblings and political arguments.
It’s always difficult for a new author to make their mark but Lara has done just that. I wish her well and hope to meet up in person when she next visits.
The Devils Claw, published by Trapeze, is available from Amazon here