Thursday, 7 May 2015
GRUMPY OLD MAN
You’ll be hard pressed to find a copy of The Book of Ebenezer Le Page in any of Guernsey’s bookshops and seeking what has been described as one of the finest novels of the Twentieth Century in Guernsey’s many tourist outlets can also prove to be a fruitless exercise.
How can it be that this modern masterpiece written by a native Guernseyman, the late Gerald B Edwards, has become all but invisible on the island of his birth?
New York Review Books described the novel as: “A triumph of the storyteller’s art that conjures up the extraordinary voice of a living man.”
Praise of the book has been echoed by literary critics across the globe, yet in Guernsey this memorable book is virtually ignored.
I was introduced to The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by my wife, Jane, who has campaigned tirelessly to promote recognition of both the novel and its author, G B Edwards.
I read it, struggling, as many do, with the early chapters, and found myself immersed in a truly amazing tale, set on the small island of Guernsey, yet having a universal appeal.
The narrator, elderly, cantankerous Ebenezer Le Page, recounts the story of his life and passions in a voice that grows ever more familiar and full of humanity with each passing page and, while doing so, introduces the reader to a cast of characters that are totally believable and absolutely full of life.
A long-awaited biography of G B Edwards, written by Professor Edward Chaney, is due to be launched later this year by Blue Ormer Publications.