Sunday, 26 June 2016

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

   I had read this book in 2009 and was fascinated by this story of the German occupation of the Guernsey Island during the second world war.
  Since the book was chosen for our library book club and I was leading the discussion, I re-read the book very carefully and appreciated it even more.
  There were individual stories of several people on the island- fiction in this case. The author showed how people can surmount terrible situations if they can keep a sense of humour.  Quote: "Humour is the best way to make the unbearable bearable".
  The 'literary' aspect of the story was also interesting and the book club really enjoyed this book.
  Although this is a fiction story, you can learn a lot about history and I was surprised about the evacuation of the children from the island to England.  And so, I researched 'child migrations' and found it shocking and interesting.
 I remembered that I had read a very good book called "Orphan Train" about moving 200,000 children from New York City and other Eastern U.S cities across the United States to find homes. This also was a fiction book, based on facts.

  In Canada there were 100,000 children brought from England between 1860 and 1934.  Many were not orphans but because of sickness, poverty, or the death of one parent, the families could not support them.

I was reminded of "Orphan at my Door" by Jean Little that I read many years ago.  That was a diary of a 'home child'.

And so I picked up another biography of a home child, written for children.  "Charlie: A Home Child's Life in Canada" was written by Charlie's daughter.  
   It was just what I needed at the moment.  A true story of a home child who was brought to Canada by Dr. Thomas Bernardo, a doctor and preacher in London.  There has been controversy about those homes so I was interested in reading about the experience of Charlie Harvey.
  It is so interesting how you can get on a subject and just find the right books to read to satisfy your curiosity.
  I cannot imagine sending these young children so far away, knowing that you may never see them again.  But it did seem like a solution for the many homeless children living on the streets of London and other cities. This book shows how some of the children were treated badly but others found a good life here.
  Perhaps I have a special interest in 'orphans' because my father spent his childhood in an orphanage when his father became sick and his mother could not support them.  And my husband spent most of his childhood in foster care.
  We believe it is a 'right' for children to have a home with their family, but hundreds of thousands of children over the years have not had this opportunity.

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